You wouldn’t understand unless you’re a swimmer

A Swimmer's life
Written by: Rebecca Gillis at 17 March '14 0
You are reading: You wouldn’t understand unless you’re a swimmer

We are really happy to welcome the lovely Rebecca Gillis to our team of bloggers. Rebecca has been swimming competitively since she was eight years old and has a wonderful ability to document the ups and downs of a competitive swimmer. Every fortnight we will post something new from Rebecca, but be warned, unless you’re a swimmer, you couldn’t possibly understand.

So here’s the thing about competitive swimming: it’s an Olympic sport, international and sometimes even national-level meets are televised, and it has some of the hardest working athletes. We’re talking seven, eight, or even upwards of nine practices a week. 

This being said, when I introduce myself to someone as a swimmer, there is usually a lot of confusion that follows.

“That’s cool, I do swimming lessons too!” is a pretty typical answer. I cannot stress enough to these people how different competitive swimming is in comparison to the once-a-week commitment of swimming lessons.

The other half of people jump to the complete opposite: “So are you the next Michael Phelps then?”. For starters, I am an average-sized teenage girl, NOT a 6’4, 28 year old man. And no, I will most likely not win a total of 22 Olympic medals in my career.

Perhaps the most frustrating response, however, is when people brush it off as “not a real sport”. I have literally had a guy tell me that swimming “takes a minimal amount of skill” and that he could probably beat me. He, on the other hand, is a self-proclaimed professional bowler. Not to hate on bowlers, but I sure would love to race him in the pool.

In fact, to train for a sport that supposedly requires “minimal skill”, I have seven or eight workouts a week. Two or three of these are mornings (hooray for 5am wake-up calls!), each about two hours spent in the water. Don’t forget about the dryland, cardio and flexibility training, too.

So to any of the people falling into the categories listed above, I invite them to walk, or rather SWIM a few miles in our suits.

Until next time,



Written by:

Rebecca Gillis

Hi! I’ve been swimming competitively since I was eight years old, and enjoy documenting the ups and downs of life as an athlete. Most of my days are spent on the pool deck, since I also work as a coach for young children, and as a lifeguard. Other than that, I’m a full time student and, like so many of my fellow swimmers, a food/nap enthusiast.