Why Swimming is One of the Toughest Sports
by: Ashley T.

When you think of tough sports, what comes to your mind? Probably football, baseball, basketball, and maybe soccer, right? These are four common sports people thoroughly enjoy. Also, they are four grueling sports that push the athlete’s body to the limit and require precision, agility, speed, brute strength, and of course, will power. Difficult as these may be, there is one sport that people tend to overlook: swimming. This is a truly challenging and demanding sport that is one of the toughest.


First, unlike most sports, swimming is one of the only sports that trains year round. The off season is merely a two week break in August. Swimmers are also given a few holidays off including Christmas Day, Thanksgiving, Spring Break, and Labor Day. They can’t take off more time than that because, as swimmers, they have to remain in top shape – otherwise the athletes lose strength and speed.


Most swimmers practice six days a week – often practicing twice a day. They get around two hours or more of hard work in the pool each practice. Once the swimmers get in, they don’t stop, except for two to five minutes between sets during the workout. They don’t just swim during practice, either. The athletes do at least thirty minutes or more of dryland consisting of weight training, abdominal work, and a variety of strength building exercises. A swimmer, who also plays football, once made the comment that his swim practices were much harder than his football practices. In fact, he said swimming made football seem easy.


Besides the fact that swimmers have extremely hard training, there is much personal sacrifice required. The athletes have to go to bed fairly early because morning practices begin by 5:00 AM. Also, swimmers constantly have to watch what they eat. As for any serious athlete, they have to make sure they eat right, and eat enough, because the food swimmers take in creates the energy with which they perform.


Another challenging aspect of the sport has nothing to do with training, eating right, or sleeping – it has to with time spent with friends. For swimmers, it’s hard to see friends outside of swimming because they’re always busy with training. Also, they have to wake up so early for practice – even on weekends – they never can spend the night with anyone besides someone from the team.


Finally, the way swimmers compete is different than most sports. Every time a swimmer competes, he is not only gunning to win his race, he is also trying to improve on his best performance times. Even though swim meets often have team events, swimming is mostly an individual sport. The athlete cannot rely on a teammate to bolster his performance on an off day. A swimmer’s rank is based solely on the individual’s effort during his race, as well as his natural skill pitted against his fellow competitors’.


Since people usually associate swimming with summer fun at the pool, it is easy to see why swimming would naturally be overlooked in the category of physically challenging sports. However, when you consider all that goes into the competitive sport – the training, the sacrifice, the lack of sleep, the competitions– one can see how demanding and difficult swimming really is. Therefore, the next time you think of tough sports, you can add swimming to your list.