Welcome to Slacker Swimmer 101 at the Institute of Low Expectations. This class will teach you how to look as if you are training hard without all that nasty lactic acid buildup. Please sit down. May we be frank? We notice that you have lost the desire to crank out the quality swims. We do not judge because we understand. You are torn. You want the respect of your peers and the admiration of strangers, yet you're sick of giving 100%. What's a lazy old toad like you to do?
We have put together an eleven step course!
Our first three suggestions work best for swimmers who workout alone at a pool that sets aside only an hour at noon for lap swim. If you show up at 11:55, the following time wasters, if done correctly, should eat up an hour, giving you five minutes to swim. We know what you're thinking...five minutes? Gosh, what's the point of even getting wet? Exactly. Appearances are everything, and you are an actor, playing the part of an athlete with a work ethic. Rehearse in front of a mirror so that when you are poolside, your grimace is natural. People should believe that, but for these petty distractions, you would be in the water doing 400 IMs.
1) Forget Your Suit
Oh, how we love to forget our swimsuit. In fact, we use stick-ems to remind ourselves to forget our suit at least once a week. It is important to actually leave the swimsuit at home. Once we threw an impressive tantrum in the locker room only to have someone peek in our bag and say, oh here it is. To our immense disappointment, we were able to practice.
Yes, sunscreen. Slather it on. Remember, sunscreen goes on every square inch of your body, not just the face. Apply a second coat if necessary because this is the only type of procrastination that prevents cancer. Do not be discouraged if you swim at an indoor pool; instead switch to a lower SPF and slather it on anyway. Tell curious onlookers that you read somewhere in an article that UV rays can penetrate steel and concrete. In fact, we'll help you with this one. UV rays can penetrate steel and concrete. Now you are telling the truth, but don't get used to it.
We used to think stretching was for wussies, but recently we have seen the light and become a Yogi master. It is our great delight to report that you can kill forty minutes by pulling your elbow across your chest. We recommend that you wince from pain as if you have shoulder problems. Next, we like the quad stretch. While standing, pull your foot towards your rear end. Lose your balance and fall, taking care to land on your shoulder. Uh-oh, now you have to do the elbow stretch again. Rinse and repeat. Congratulations. Lap swim just ended and now you're going to Taco Bell.
The next few suggestions are for traveling swimmer who likes to workout with a local Masters team. You are a lucky duck. As an unknown quantity, who'll be the wiser when you add ten seconds to your race pace? The following hints assume that you are in the water, looking to avoid exertion and/or get out early.
4) Goggle problems
Oh, the granddaddy of excuses. Since volumes have been written on this subject and we have much ground to cover, we shall give a condensed version of the many ways to exploit the goggle.
4a: Wear clear goggles in an outdoor pool (The sun is in my eyes, I can't do back or IM.)5) Disorientation
4b: Wear dark goggles in an indoor pool. (I can't see the clock, oh was I supposed to go already?)
4c: Loose flapping straps* that slip off one's head during the slightest of streamlines. (Help oh help, I've lost my contacts. They're tinted blue.)
*Swedish types are recommended. Since they have two head straps, the chances of losing them on a firm push-off literally double. Of course, we eagerly await the invention of a triple strap goggle.
4d: This goggle tip is for those of you who crave respect from the extra credit freaks. Nothing says, "I got in early and swam ten thousand," better than harsh red goggle marks. Remember, goggles ought mark only the area surrounding the eyes. Imprints on the forehead, as if you sat on the wall for thirty minutes wondering whether you have a pop at John F. Kennedy Jr should he divorce Carolyn Bessette, impress no one. For best results, tighten the straps around the head until you feel your skull fracture and sit like that in a sauna for fifteen minutes.
The clever swimming tourist is always on the make for slacking opportunities. Our favorite is in the form of a question, and it goes like this, "are we at altitude?" An affirmative reply starts our lungs heaving. We are from sea level and we point this out gleefully to our lane mates at the beginning of every set. Then we draft like nobody's business.
If, however, you are from altitude and visiting at sea level, we are sorry for you. You will be setting PR's despite yourself and instead of letting you enjoy the added rest, an ambitious coach may suggest you move to a faster lane. Refrain from action and instead...
6) Feign an Illness
This is a delicate matter as you must pick an illness that nobody on the team already suffers from. For example, if you announce that you have from terminal disease X, (and never in our life have we stooped this low, except for a couple times), not only will karma assign you to a lane with a swimmer who really does have terminal disease X, but this person will invariably be doing more yardage at faster intervals than the so-called healthy people. We think you ought to pick something obscure and historical. Scurvy is effective, as in, "I am weak from scurvy." In addition to being non-offensive to all, scurvy affords you the opportunity of getting out early to add Vitamin C to your diet. We recommend carrot cake.
7) Work Commmitment
We love to pretend we are important, and we often skip the last set so we can have a "lunch meeting with our boss." Unfortunately for us this is a road trick only, as our home team knows that we are self-employed.
8) Grab the Wrong Zoomers
You and your lucky victim are sure to miss out on at least 100 yards of dolphin kicking as you sort out which fins fit on whose feet.
9) A Ripped Cap
This is our least favorite. Since most swimmers carry extra caps we are in a lose-lose situation: the more dismayed we behave, the more caps we are offered. Also, we require that participants in the ripped cap scheme have long hair. We have seen bald men attempt this maneuver, and while we admire chutzpah, their cries of "I can't swim without it," lack credibility and ruin this excuse for the rest of us.
10) Go to the Bathroom
Save this underused gem for a distance set. Crafty female swimmers will take off (and put back on) the entire suit instead of pulling the crotch area to one side.
11) Make a Good Impression
Truly the last resort. If you are unable to talk your way out of a sprint, fake speed. We love to leave on the fifty and pretend that we left on the top. This is how we did a 4.6 in the 25 free, from a push. If anyone questions your results, seethe a little and declare that you are, "in the Zone."
We paraphrase from page 164 of the AA Big Book when we say our guide is meant to suggestive only. We realize the we know only a little. As previously noted, we are beholden to the sprinting community for their fine slack example but accolades also go to triathletes, especially those with a track backround. We would have included some of their excuses but even we are unable to pretend that we are getting out early in order to run.