One of the more ironic aspects of swimming is that people who only see swimming on TV, and usually only once every 4 years at that, all think of swimming as the ultimate non-contact sport. They only see swimmers racing in their own wide lanes, with the only contact being an occasional hug or handshake afterwards. What a prim and proper sport!
Of course, the reality of swimming is so vastly different. Training involves almost constant contact at every practice. You can’t have up to 10 people in a lane, swimming in opposite directions, and doing butterfly and breaststroke without having contact. It’s just impossible. And meet warmups, at least in our area, are far, far worse. At meets, we usually have dozens of swimmers in each 25m lane, each trying to go over, around, under or through slower swimmers ahead of them. It’s not uncommon at all for swimmers to come out of the pool with scratches or bruises, and I’ve even seen bite marks. It’s crazy, stupid, unsafe and all kinds of other words. But the reality is that swimmers get use to lots of contact at an early age.
All of this makes it even stranger when I get the occasional complaint from a new swim parent that another young swimmer bumped into their child during practice. And by contact I mean, they accidentally bumped into or locked arms or ran into or touched the foot or many other trivial contact issues that swimmers are pretty much used to. But new parents aren’t used to that, and so they think this is unusual or a problem.
Of course, some forms of contact are strictly forbidden. But luckily I’ve found this to be extremely rare.
So, the next time you hear someone talk about swimming as a non-contact sport, just let them know they couldn’t be farther from the truth.