The Struggle Is Real: The Darker Side of Swimming

Posted: August 25, 2016 in Swim
Tags: ,

I like swimming.  You could even say I love it.  Of the three triathlon disciplines it’s probably my strongest and the easiest to be motivated to train for.  In other words, it’s not hard to talk myself into my pool or open water workouts.  I mean, sometimes it sucks getting up early n’ all but once I’ve done so I typically enjoy myself.  I can’t always say that about, say, running.

Anyway, as with most things though it’s not all unicorns, lollipops and rainbows and there is a not so “glamorous” side to swimming.  This blog post then is a confession of sorts to the kinds of stuff that, while we have come to accept as swimmers, we don’t necessarily talk openly about either.

So keep reading at your own risk.

  1. ‘Snot Enough?

Yes, we swimmers tend to get really phlegmy from time to time.  And I’m talking about huge, glistening streams of yellowish snot rockets hanging from our nose.


Swimming tends to increase phlegm build up inside your sinuses shortly after or during a swimming session meaning that every now and again we’ll surface with an enormous nose goblin hanging from our snoz.

I mean, it kind of makes sense when you consider that while you’re swimming, you’re basically allowing water to naturally enter your nasal passages in a minor amount despite either holding your breath or exhaling when submerged.

And then there’s the whole humidity thing going on in most pools causing boogers, which are little more than dehydrated snot, to rehydrate and become more fluid.  This pairing of conditions causes them to break loose from the interior of the nasal passage.  And when you’re exhaling forcefully as most swimmers are apt to do, boogies might cling to stray nose hairs and such, which leaves you seeing swimmers with what looks to be an eel hanging from their nostril.

And what else is there to do but wipe it off and carry on with the workout?

Still want to keep reading?

  1. Who gives a flying fart?

Yup, we fart too.

Well, at least I do so I’m sure other swimmers do as well.  Around our house, we simply refer to them as “pool farts”.


As best as I can figure it, while swimming a swimmer will swallow little bits of air here and there over and over again, not to mention little mouthfuls of water.  It’s just inevitable.  It happens.  So eventually, that build up of air has to come out somewhere.

Now, usually, this is not big deal.  Seldom are they the nasty, toxic beer and sauerkraut kind of fart, but more the breezy release of air that wafts out harmlessly and ripples to the surface like a bubble lazily drifting up to the surface from the ocean floor.  For me, this happens most often when I do my flip turns and I push off the wall leaving a little string of bubbles behind me with a low, audible underwater moan as if a dying sperm whale somewhere in the pool has up and kicked the bucket and I have to complete the next 25m or so with this little pocket of air sloshing around underneath my Speedo’s.

But then there’s the good ‘ol post-workout pool fart as you’re walking back to the car afterwards and, man, do these ever feel good.

It’s the best part of the workout if you ask me.

However, sometimes, depending on what you’ve eaten the night before (if you’re swimming in the morning) or before the workout (if you’re swimming later on) where you rip what you think is just going to be a harmless little squeaker and what bubbles up smells like it came up from the bowels of Hell itself.  These are certainly the more dire of the two.  Here, the water fart is 100% unfiltered; the Platonic ideal, the form, the ‘fart-in-itself’ if you will.  An ordinary air fart is simply a shadow cast into the physical realm of this singular perfection but these monsters, the unfiltered variety gets trapped in the water only to burst and be released upon the surface like angry Krakon it is.   If you launch one of these in the pool, my suggestion is to bid a hasty retreat to the next lane.

  1. Pee that as it may

I’ve already professed before my feelings about pissing in the pool (click HERE); that being, you just don’t do it.


However, maybe I was a bit hasty because, well, I do.  I mean, I don’t…but I do.

Ya, know?


Now I’m not talking about full blown streams of piss here as if I was out behind the wood shed after a few wobbly pops and conscientiously letting ‘er rip into the wind, no.  I’m talking more about little slips here and there.

Have you ever noticed that when you swim you don’t really have any sense of your bladder?  I don’t know why, but it’s not until I come to wall and stop when I become aware that, yeah, I have to take a leak…except, I have a few more 100’s to do and so I decide to hold it.  C’mon, you’ve all been there.  So I might do a fast flip turn and, oops, a little gets released.

What can I say?

It happens.

          4.  Poo too?




The CDC collected samples from public pool filters and found that 58% tested positive for E. Coli, which is usually found in feces.

I’m not saying that swimmers take dumps in the pool, hells no!  But you also have to remember that there are often kids in the pool when you’re not there and, even then, humans have, on average, .14 grams of fecal matter on their butt when they enter the pool and can easily contaminate the water.  Multiply that by the hundreds of people who visit the pool every day and you’ve got almost a full turd floating around.

       5.  The Dirty Truth

How about showering first before entering the pool?


Not likely.


A 2012 survey by the Water Quality and Health Council concluded that 43% of North Americans don’t shower before getting into the pool. Somehow they think that the chlorine with automatically make them clean.

It doesn’t.  And that’s gross.

And considering some of the people I’ve seen enter my local pool, well, let’s just say I don’t even want to go there in my mind.


How excited are you now for your next swim workout?


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