LUV - YOU SHUT UP SWIMMING IS BRILLIANT. It’s like winning, but in water.
I love swimming so much that I used to swim every day, but had to take it down to once or twice a week because it was JUST TOO MUCH PLEASURE. And also because I was spending so much time in the water that I started to look like Yoda.
More like Yoda, I mean.
Remember the freewheeling childhood joy of messing around on the monkey bars? Well, being suspended in water means that you – current, adult you with a bad back – can do somersaults. And you can dive under the water and swim around with your legs together, pretending to be Daryl Hannah in Splash (although you’ll look more like a shiny rotund puffin).
Swimming is also, a little sadly, the nearest thing any of us will experience to zero-gravity. And it’s the only activity in which you can go from zero to freestyle in a day. Imagine trying to do that with rapping, or breakdancing. You’d be rubbish. In seconds you’d fall over your words, or your own feet, and end up in a crying pile on the floor. With swimming, though, you can fudge a reasonably convincing front crawl for at least half a width, even if you haven’t swum for years.
As a form of exercise, swimming is far preferable to huffing away in the gym, because you never get too hot and you exercise almost every muscle in your body. In my case this is particularly true of my tongue, because I have to spend at least a third of my pool session apologising to all the other swimmers for cannonballing into them while rotating my arms and legs like Animal from The Muppets.
Yep, I am THE BEST THING about swimming: the abysmal but aggressively enthusiastic swimmer.
I will career splashily into a patch of terrified geriatric aqua-aerobicists. I will decide mid-length to try the butterfly stroke, then proceed to kerplosh crazy zigzags across ALL the lanes. Ain’t no lane swimmer goin’ unmolested on MY watch. I am EXCELLENT AT BEING SHIT AT SWIMMING.
Perhaps the best thing about swimming – apart from the smell of a swimming pool and that delicious tiredness in your limbs after a session – is the fact that if you do it for long enough, you might start to look like Michael Phelps.
And that’s a good look – all thickly muscled shoulders, skinny child-legs and, because he’s had to pose for god knows how many Olympic headshots, the persistently uncomfortable smile of an arthritic chimpanzee. And deep down, that’s what we all want, isn’t it?
- Robyn Wilder
HAT - When Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian in history the other night, you might have thought “Good for him”. And that’s fine.
You might have also thought “Maybe now we don’t have to keep looking at pictures of his sodding breakfast all the poxy time”. That’s also fine.
Then, inspired by his incredible athleticism, you might have thought “You know what? Maybe I should go swimming”.
No. Just no. That is not fine.
Look, you’re kidding yourself. You are NOT Michael Phelps. Michael Phelps has won 19 Olympic medals for swimming. You, at best, got a solitary proficiency badge for it when you were a brownie, and that’s only because the instructor took pity on you and pretended not to see that you were crying and walking for most of your length.
And it’s OK that you’re not Michael Phelps. I mean, have you seen Michael Phelps? He looks like a stockingful of chicken knuckles. His nickname is The Human Fish. That’s what people actually call him. Imagine if you were so good at swimming that people named you after something that sounded like an even-worse sequel to Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus. It’d be shit. Your life would be shit. If anything, you should be glad that you’re not as good at swimming as Michael Phelps.
Also - and I can’t overstate this enough - swimming is rubbish. It’s fine if it’s your job. But it isn’t your job, is it? You’re a fucking social media coordinator or whatever. When you walk out of the changing room, you do it wrapped in your ugliest towel, convinced that everyone’s staring at your hairy back or your massive ankles or your harrowingly asymmetric nipples. You slowly inch your way into the pool, flinching as the water hits your genitals. And then you basically just flap about like a seal being tasered by a shark, trying not to get your hair wet or any water in your mouth because there’s probably piss in it. It’s embarrassing.
And this is all before you’ve even paid attention to all the different people in the pool - including but not limited to lane-hoggers, horny teenagers, slow housewives, walkers, loiterers, splashers, kickers, bombers, runners, heavy-petters, farters, pissers, grunters, duck-divers, float-monopolisers, screamers, zig-zaggers, aqua-aerobicsers, lifeguard-flirters, ring-abusers and, worst of all, you.
What this means is that, whenever you go swimming, you basically spend 20 minutes floating in a great big puddle of dead skin and urine, getting angrier and angrier because none of the arseholes in the pool will even let you go three consecutive strokes in a straight line, then getting out, drying off, eating a hamburger, kidding yourself that you earnt it because your skin smells faintly of chlorine now, and then wondering why you never lose any weight.
Well fuck you. Fuck you and fuck Michael Phelps. And fuck water. Especially fuck water.
- Stuart Heritage