swimmer's birthday

Sometimes – okay all the time – there is a disconnect between swimmers and non-swimmers. Every swimmer knows exactly what I am talking about. More often than not, non-swimmers just don’t get it and they say some things that make swimmers cringe. This is especially true after a swimmer turns 30.

What You Don’t Say to Swimmers

If you want to stay friends, make sure to avoid these things you don’t say to swimmers on their birthdays

1. At what age do swimmers retire?

Why is 30 the magic number for athletes? Just because a swimmer is 30, it doesn’t mean cataracts and canes. Lately, when non-swimmers bring up retirement, they are talking about Michael Phelps. He did retire in 2012 but came back in 2014. Yes, swimming peak performance is between 22 and 26, but 30 does not mean swimmer should get out of the pool and start filling out retirement paperwork.

2. Will the chlorine make your hair fall out faster?

The underlying assumption here is: your hair falls out when you get old, you are 30, so chlorine must make your hair fall out quicker or at least do something funny to all the grey hairs people will start to point out. Yes, the chlorine does dry out the hair, but no, chlorine won’t make the hair fall out.  Thank you very much.

3. Are you going to do a real sport now?

One last time: swimming is a sport! One day, every person who asks that will have to jump in the pool and pull off a perfect 1-mile swim. Swimming is a real sport. In fact, it is one of the best sports for us as we age. Swimming can actually reverses the effects of aging.

4. Will you have to watch what you eat now that your metabolism is slowing down?

Says the person holding a soda in one hand and a burrito in the other. Swimmers have some of the best diets. When you combine swimming and nutrition, the metabolism is not as much of a concern as someone who sits at a desk all day.

5. How do you feel working around kids all day?

By kids, the person usually means college and post-college swimmers. Yeah, this one hurts.

6. Do you get tired faster?

It is as if your alarm goes off on the day of your birthday and suddenly you can’t quite keep up in the pool that day. Tired! Of course you are feeling tired, you got up at 5 a.m., had an hour-long, and finished half your day done before the rest of the world rolled out of bed.

7. Can you teach my water aerobics class?

Umm… what? Just because a swimmer is 30, it does not mean it is time to jump into the water with a pool noodle at host water aerobics classes.

8. Do you regret that tattoo now?

Someone will always question your tattoo choices, and it gets worse as you get older. Plus, they seem to be very concerned about how chlorine affects the ink, or if your skin will start to sag from all the chlorine.

9. How old is too old for the Olympics?

You are 30 or older, so that means that all your Olympics dreams are crushed. Every year non-swimmers asked you if you were going to the Olympics, and now they don’t think you are young enough to qualify. No, not every swimmer you meet is training for the Olympics.

10. Do you still wear Speedos?

The images of men in tight briefs on the beach are forever burned into the minds of everyone you meet. When non-swimmers think “speedo,” they imagine tiny briefs. Speedo is a brand not a style, and it certainly isn’t what the person next to you in the sand is wearing.

Getting older can be tough for athletes, especially if you are a swimmer. You grew up defending your sport, now everyone thinks you are too old to do it. What are some of the worst things people said to you after you turned 30?