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Competitive Swimming

So you've decided to become a swimmer. I'm sorry. Many proponents of competitive swimming say that this sport is the safest, healthiest sport under the sun. They point out that swimming is low-impact on the joints and muscles and provides a superlative cardio-vascular exercise, lengthening one's lifespan and improving one's quality of life.


As with all the proponents of a sport, there are grains of truth to the statements above, however, the reality of competitive swimming is somewhat less rosy. While it is true that swimmers do not make a habit of slamming into each other the way other high-impact sports require, the sheer number of iterations that the swimmer's body goes through in the process of training creates repetitive stress injuries. Their joints just eventually wear out. Swimming also puts such a demand upon the cardio-vascular system that irregular and racing heartbeats are not rare events during practice at the higher levels of the sport and the swimmer that is affected by these conditions and does not stop immediately has a risk of sudden death.

You may well ask why no one has mentioned the true nature of swimming before. There are several factors that lead to the lack of information of swimming's real face. First of all, swimming is a relatively unpopular sport to watch. Sure every four years it gets copious press coverage during the Olympics, but the remaining years, there is just not that much interest. Next, most swimmers of any quality have to start very young. As we grow up within the sport, the regimen of the sport becomes ingrained in our lives and we don't know any different than the lifestyle we have. We believe our lives are normal. Finally, and probably most importantly, once we leave the sport, many of us just don't want to have anything more to do with it. This fact is evidenced by the almost complete lack of swimmers who continue in the sport as coaches or officials once they have retired.

In this site I will try to illustrate what competitive swimming is really like. So you as a swimmer or you as a parent of a prospective swimmer can decide whether swimming is truly for you. Furthermore, if you do decide to be a swimmer, I will try to prepare you for the pitfalls that every swimmer must avoid as you progress through the belly of this particular beast.

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