Picked the Wrong Guy for Swimming Tips

Today’s tidbit of advice….just because someone looks like a pro, don’t assume they are.

Here’s the back story to that advice.  It’s actually a slightly funny story.

Rewind almost 24 hours.  I arrive at my local swimming hole to do my “typical” swim set.  2500 yards.  Nothing special.  A warm up, a nice kick set, a pull set, some 50’s, some 100’s and a couple of 250’s.  Like many triathletes, I go to the pool arms loaded with supplies.  Water bottle.  Workout in plastic ziplock bag.  Fins.  Kick board.  Pull buoy.  Goggles.  Team Trakkers visor (it’s now a retro clothing item).  The requisite triathlon race shirt.

There were lots of kids doing swim practice, so I had to jump in and share a lane with a younger lady and a dude who appeared to be roughly my age (of course, he could have been 20 years younger than me – but anyone who looks post-adolescent and pre-retirement is “roughly” my age). 

I swam off and did my warm-up.  As I was stretching and getting ready to start the main set, the guy started hitting me up with questions.

“Why do you have those fins?”

“Every time I swim, my legs sink.  What should I do differently?”

“I need new goggles.  What kind are yours?”

Some of his questions were easy, low hanging fruit (like the goggles question).  Other questions required a master’s degree in swimming to answer.  Luckily, John – one of the swim team coaches – was on the deck right behind us and stepped in to help.

But seriously – what the heck was this guy doing?  I’m no Michael Phelps.  No Ryan Lochtey.  I’m not a 50 minute iron swimmer.  I’m the slow guy who starts at the back right of every wave.  The one who is excited to go 1:45 per 100 yards.  The one who learned how to swim bilaterally only last summer.  Who did he think he was asking for advice?

Well – I don’t ultimately know if I helped the guy out, or if he’ll drown as a result of my tips.  Either way, I was sort of flattered that he asked me questions.  Made me feel like I wasn’t such a “newbie”.  I guess I looked the part.  I only play a “real” swimmer on TV.

I sure hope that guy doesn’t drown.  🙂


4 thoughts on “Picked the Wrong Guy for Swimming Tips

  1. I feel the same way when people ask me questions about swimming. Though, I am totally flattered when they tell me I look so “relaxed” when I swim. I call it being lazy but I will take relaxed!

  2. HAHAHAHAHAHA. I’m actually a lifelong swimmer (and now triathlete) and get asked questions in the pool ALL THE TIME. I have also taught a great deal of swim lessons in my life and have helped coach many different athletes. So, I love helping people with their technique and am willing to give a few free pointers here and there. However, I get so annoyed when people want to chat about my swimming or ask me questions while I’m in the pool. Like, I’m flattered but I’m busy. And, the first tip I would give one of those people (if I weren’t too nice, of course) is that they shouldn’t interrupt a swimmer in the middle of a set.
    Funny story though. My suggestion is to (1) take the compliment, (2) refer people to SwimOutlet.com when they ask about gear, and (3) simply suggest they look into swim lessons if they really want to improve their stroke. No, you may not be a great coach yourself, but you probably make a decent swimming yellow pages!

  3. You should have asked him what his bike/run splits are like. If you determine that he isn’t in your age group and isn’t your direct competition – THEN you should feel free to give him advice.

    Otherwise, just make up crazy things to have him try, so you can get a jump on him coming into T1. 🙂

  4. So really, it is all relative right? To a brand new swimmer, you are an expert! And since you know more than he did (even if it isn’t a great deal more), you still could share some knowledge or experience that he didn’t already have. You might ask questions of someone who also thinks they are not an expert, but since they know a little more than you do, there may be a little tidbit they could impart?!

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