Claire Forrest went to her first swim meet at the age of eleven, on a whim. She fell in love with the sport and never looked back. Classified an S6 disabled swimmer for US Paralympics, Claire specialized in mid-distance freestyle and backstroke and made national and world rankings throughout her career. Claire is passionate about integrating disability swimming into the larger swim community, having swum for able-bodied club teams and her college’s DIII team. Article: Courtesy of Claire Forrest
The girlfriends I met through swimming are some of the best people I have in my life. The pool brings people together, and our time on various swim teams has bonded us for life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
There are a lot of aspects and experiences unique to the female swimmer. I laugh (and/or roll my eyes) about these a lot with my swimmer girls, and maybe you do too.
10) The disappointment when your nail polish doesn’t even last 12 hours. You’ve put on a great new shade and you’re feeling pretty good about it. But not even the best top or base coat combination can withstand a swim practice. Does it deter you? Nope. Just an excuse to try another color.
9) When you find a fashionable jacket or dress that fits properly over your shoulders and back, you’re tempted to buy one in every color. Can we petition to re-term “Man Shoulders” to “Insanely In-Shape Person Shoulders”? Big shoulders were never just for dudes.
8) You look wistfully at the expensive shampoos at the hair salon and the fancy products at the makeup counter. It’s not worth it when you could go through a quarter of those tiny bottles in one day. For many female swimmers, it’s waterproof mascara with a touch of chapstick on a good day. And forget hair styling tools! A messy wet bun and we’re out the door after morning practice, ready to tackle the day, and then back in the pool at night.
7) You are confused as to why women can’t swim the 1,500 in the Olympics yet. We’ve experienced Janet Evans, Katie Ledecky, and many other extremely talented distance swimmers. I think we’ve proved that women can swim the 1,500 as well as anyone by now.
6) When you show up to practice in the cutest new suit, only to see four of your other teammates bought it too. Let’s face it, swimming doesn’t have the added benefit of being able to wear cute workout gear like yoga or spin classes. A colorful, patterned suit is pretty much all the expression we’ve got. And no matter what, you won’t be the only girl on the team with that suit.
5) Shedding. Enough said. Boys don’t know how lucky they are to be able to shave their heads during swim season. The amount of dry, brittle hair you pull out of your hair and brush after practice is appalling.
4) Hoping against hope that your body doesn’t betray you during the biggest meet of your life. Ladies, you know what I’m referring to. And to make it perfectly clear for anyone who’s wondering: I’ve never met a female swimmer who has ever backed down from practice or a meet with this as an excuse. Mother Nature can’t stop us.
3) Explaining to your non-swimmer girlfriends why you’re not interested in dating any of the male swimmers on your team. There might be exceptions to this, of course. First off, if you’re a female swimmer, you’ve seen so many boys in Speedos, it doesn’t even phase you anymore. Secondly, your team is family, and your male teammates are your friends, and like brothers.
2) Shaving. Girls count down to that final day of taper when they can finally shave their legs. Shaving is a privilege, honestly. Non-swimming women don’t know how lucky they are. Though, to be honest, it’s really nice to have an excuse not to shave your legs, too.
1) When non-swimmers challenge you to a pull-up contest or say they could probably beat you in a 50 free. Just like any swimmer, females have incredible arm strength, so don’t second guess us on pull-ups. And in the pool? We swim like girls, and that’s a good thing, so you’re out of luck. Swim on, ladies!