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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Dating Pool In The Swimming Community

Swimmers can be considered a unique breed of athletes. Both age-group swimmers and masters swimmers often wake up before the sun rises to train, sometimes in frigidly cold or rough water.

For some, they go back to practice in the afternoon or evening and train again until the sun is down. Hours and hours are spent year after year in a disciplined regimen of swimming and dryland training, all performed to shave a few seconds off their best times or to push themselves against the elements in the open water.

Back and forth, in the open water or in a pool, swimmers train with their heads down in the water, either deep in thought or in a zone. If they train together in a pool, they communicate via snippets of conversation between sets. When their muscles are sore and their physical exhaustion is total, they go back home to go to bed early in order to face another day of training. It is a lifestyle that demands time management, commitment, and discipline rare among athletes of any age.

Within this aquatic community, personal relationships develop and blossom, and occasionally whither away. Swimcest, or the act of dating another swimmer on the same team, is widely prevalent from coast to coast in America and many parts of the global swimming world. The cute girl in lane 2, the guy with a killer body, the woman who swims on the weekends, and the man who wears bright swimsuits: these are all representative of individuals who catch the eye of other swimmers.

Dating among swimmers, frowned upon by many coaches, but accepted by others, is a fact whether the swimmers in question are teenagers exploring relationships for the first time or masters swimmers on a rebound from a divorce. While clubs, parties and online communities may be locations where the dating game is played, the pool deck and kicking sets are the alternatives for many high school, college and masters athletes. Swim teams, swim workouts, swim meets and open water events are simply the opportunities where the gender meet, mix and mingle - and one very convenient conduit where many swimmers find girlfriends, boyfriends, partners, and in some cases, spouses.

But a dark side also occurs as sometimes relationships between teammates sour and wrecks havoc on team chemistry or individuals. And in some cases, too much or the wrong kind of swimcest sadly leads to infidelity and divorce, especially within a masters swim team or among adult swimmers. While coaches of high school and college teams often discourage the establishment of relationships between swimmers on their team, human nature usually is a more powerful engine that motivates the swimmers to find ways around their coach's edicts.

Why do relationships emerge between teammates? It is easy to pinpoint the reasons:

1. Lifestyle: teammates often share the same training, competition, nutrition, travel and sleeping habits
2. Convenience: teammates face similar time-intensive schedules
3. Habits: teammates understand the demands of practice with the same daily schedule
4. Bonding: teammates endure so much physically, mentally and emotionally, they develop strong common bonds
5. Opportunity: teammates are regularly seen several hours each week with competitions on the weekends
6. Common interests: teammates are generally like-minded individuals of the same age with similar goals
7. Camaraderie: teammates often share the same thoughts, and outlook based on other teammates, coaches and rivals
8. Tan lines: teammates understand where the unusual tan lines come from (around the eyes, foreheads and backs)
9. Fashion: female teammates are comfortable with their male teammates who are comfortable walking around in swim briefs [this is not always so in America]

Love is in the air...and water.

Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Swimming

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