Olympic Secrets: Want To Become A Pro Swimmer? 9 Weird Experiences They Never Tell You Will Happen

by Cate Campbell

Watching the Olympics and other swimming competitions, it's easy to be swept away by the glamour and seemingly effortlessness of it all. All of the swimmers look so athletic, graceful and swim through the water with such ease; the roar of the crowd sweeping everyone away, caught up in the moment and invigorating atmosphere of it all. But, what they don't tell you about are all of the weird things that professional swimmers experience begind the scenes... It's not just about diet, nutrition and exercise. Your body, lifestlyle, even your psychology, will undergo so many unusual changes. Fancy becoming a pro swimmer? Here's what's in store...

1. You Will ALWAYS Smell Like Chlorine
Seriously, always. If your hair isn’t saturated with it, then it will start coming out of your pores when your sweat… Still, I’d take chlorine over BO any day.

2. You Will, At Some Stage, Stroke Someone Inappropriately AND Be Stroked Inappropriately By Someone Under A Lane Rope
It’s going to happen. Crowded warm-up pools/training lanes, it’s just an inevitability. You just have to live in hope that when it’s your turn to be the stroker, you get someone with a good body, which fortunately in the swimming world isn’t hard to find.

3. You Become Desensitized To Shirtless Guys 
While most of your girlfriends swoon at the faintest hint of defined abs or rippling pectorals, for you it’s just another day at the office. In fact, you often catch yourself fantasizing about what guys look like with their clothes on…

4. Staying Up Until 10pm Is Officially Considered A Wild Night
When you've been up since 4.30am, there is something heroic about seeing the clock tick over into double digits in the evening. 

5. An Average Competition Day Will See At Least 12 Outfit Changes... You Will Long For A Time When You Can Wear 1 Outfit All Day
Don’t believe me? Let me take you through them: get out of pajamas - get into compression recovery skins. Go to the competition pool. Get out of compression recovery skins and into training bathers. Warm up. Get out of training bathers and into racing bathers. Race. Get out of racing bathers and into training bathers. Warm down. Get out of training bathers and back into compression skins. Return to hotel and eat lunch. Get out of compression skins and back into pajamas for mid-day nap. Wake up and repeat for finals session. Total number of outfit changes: 12. Add that to the training sessions in beween and... And the supermodels and *cough reality star posers* think they have it tough... *rolls eyes* *smiles*

6. Your Friends Will Never Understand Why You Can't 'Just Miss 1 Training Session' 

Friend: 'Come on, it’s just one, surely it’s not that important.' 

You, indignantly, surely people aren’t that stupid: ‘Not that important? If I miss this session then I will not be prepped for tomorrow’s heart rate session. Meaning that I will not perform well in that session. Meaning that I will have missed my aerobic conditioning for the week. Meaning that I have wasted a weeks worth of training and I only have 8 weeks left until nationals... or take the rest of the week off and give up swimming all together.’ 

Friend: Slightly unsteadily, with the look of someone who has been slapped in the face by a raw fish: 'Okay, okay, sorry I asked…'

You: *Sigh*


7. Say 'Goodbye' To The 'Cute And Dainty' Look And Prepare For Your T-Shirt Size To Increase By 2 Sizes 
If your style icon is Taylor Swift, in her classic red lip and a tight little skirt, you may need to switch icons. Take it from one swimmer to another, if you want to look good in those outfits, you’re in the wrong sport. Swimmers look fit, not petite. Size 14 shoulders and size 10 hips. It’s a tough time in the fashion stakes.

8. Say 'Goodbye' To Your Eyebrows (And 'Hello' To The Odd Risk Of 'Accidentally' Orange Or Green Hair!)
It's a cruel twist of fate that the 2010’s is the decade for brows. We swimmers would have faired very well in the 90’s when it was in vogue to tweeze your eyebrows into near non-existence and then pencil in a thin line to replace them. In fact, us swimmers could have forgone the tweezing step all together. It's no secret that chlorine isn’t great for your hair and skin, every blonde kid had green hair (or even orange! if you ask Team USA's Hali Flickinger) for a bit in summer, but it seems to have a personal vendetta against eyebrows. Chlorine bleaches and eats away at your eyebrow hair with a ferocity that is as impressive as it is devastating. Do you think that it would extend its animosity to the other hair on your body? Oh no, I still have to shave my legs as regularly as ever. I could deal with no eyebrows if at least I didn’t have to shave. Ladies, eyebrow dye is your friend, and guys, maybe steal some off a girlfriend or sister.


9. It's All Worth It
All those early mornings, the green hair, the sleep depravation, the slightly alien look that comes with having no eyebrows. It's all worth it. Some of my best memories are next to a swimming pool. I have learned so much about myself, travelled to places I never knew existed and met the most amazing people. It’s not easy, but nothing worth doing ever is, so go for it!

Cate Campbell is an Olympic Champion, World Champion and Commonwealth Games Swimming Champion on Team Australia.

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