Ten Words That Have a Completely Different Meaning to Swimmers


by Claire Forrest

There is no doubt that swimming, like any sport, has its own specialized vocabulary.  But there are also some everyday words that have a completely different meaning to swimmers:
1.       Swim Cap
What most people think it means: A silicone cap with flowers and a chin strap on it that your grandmother wears in the pool.
What swimmers think it means: A very trusted and necessary piece of swimming attire, with specific memories associated with each team cap, such as a hard set or incredible race tackled while wearing it.

2.       Swimsuit
What most people think it means: A purely fashionable item of summer clothing, the cuter or more colorful the better!
What swimmers think it means: Something worn for much of the waking hours, chosen with complete disregard for pattern, the tighter and more water dynamic the better!

3.       Nap
What most people think it means: A short and rare twenty-minute period of sleep, just to refresh.
What swimmers think it means: A sacred time of deep sleep, to be interrupted only when friends and family form a search party because they haven’t seen you all day, and even then, you’ll probably sleep through it.

4.       Winter Break
What most people think it means: An awesome few weeks off from school where one is free to do whatever they want!
What swimmers think it means: A dreaded time of torture when swim coaches fill the swimmer’s vacation with strenuous three-hour practices and training trips.

5.       Shaving
What most people think it means: An act of grooming to remove unwanted hair from your body.
What swimmers think it means: An extremely high risk and meticulous pre-meet ritual to remove every last hair from your body in order to possibly remove 0.005 seconds from your race time.

6.       Taper
What most people think it means: A verb meaning to decrease or thin out over time.
What swimmers think it means: The single most glorious period of time, better than all holidays or birthdays combined, when you swim increasingly less in order to rest for a meet.  See also: an excuse to get out of any and every physical activity or personal responsibility.

7.       Butterfly
What most people think it means: A winged creature that is colorful, dainty, and beautiful.
What swimmers think it means: The most difficult, painful, and impressive stroke that causes most swimmers—except a select few—to tremble in fear.

8.       Dry land
What most people think it means: Any part of the earth that is not a body of water.
What swimmers think it means: A pre- or post-swim practice exercise regimen created to inflict additional demands of time and physicality on the swimmer.

9.       Sleeping in
What most people think it means: Waking up when your body feels naturally rested and revitalized, without the demands of a schedule or an alarm.
What swimmers think it means: When your alarm for morning practice is set to six o’clock in the morning instead of five.

10.    Swimming
What most people think it means: A rare and fun activity that involves relaxing near a pool or just splashing around in one.
What swimmers think it means: My life.

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