Sprinters vs. Distance Swimmers: Who Rules the Pool? | Teen Ink

Sprinters vs. Distance Swimmers: Who Rules the Pool?

March 2, 2021
By Anonymous

Swimming is a sport considered by many to be “awful”. For example, when I try to convince friends to join a swim team, they usually laugh in my face. Why? The answer that I usually get is: swimming is a stupid sport that is unnecessarily hard and requires math. I find that answer interesting. Considering the saying of “The harder you work, the greater the benefits will be”, I tend to ponder the logic behind an answer like that. I understand that some people don’t like a hard workout, but, at the same time, it keeps you in shape.

But something else interesting happens when I bring up swimming…every time. When I bring up swimming, people seem to always bring up the ever infamous and controversial question of: “Who’s better, sprinters or long distance swimmers?”. Oh man, how swimmers just love this question. It gives an opportunity for the swimmer to push their highly inflammatory and strong opinion to an innocent and clueless bystander.

There is a great divide between distance swimmers and sprinters, and that divide is unfixable (I am BIG on sprinting). There is no chasm as deep or ocean as wide as this divide. There are some weird swimmers that try to play mediator and believe that the swimming community should be unified and that all swimmers should hold hands and sing kumbaya... but that ain’t happening. Yes, the swimmers on a swim team all swim for the same team, but I mean, come on. There’s no denying or ignoring the elephant in the room… especially during warmup.

Warmup is one of the most vulnerable parts of practice where a fight could break out. Sprinters just let it rip during warmup, and distance swimmers like to take their time and enjoy the refreshing morning vibe. Distance swimmers literally get so T.O.’d when a little bit of wake from a sprinter disrupts the ambiance. I mean come on, we aren’t trying to wreak any havoc, but I mean, speed up a little, dude. Good thing coach separates distance swimmers and sprinters during practice… or else a fight would probably break out. Sprinters give it their all for the first half of the set and gas themselves out the second half, hoping to be able to get faster at longer sprint events, like the 100 free. Distance swimmers give pace, in order to make it through practice without having to stop. It would be literal chaos if coach were to put a sprinter and a distance swimmer in a lane together.

The style of swimming is not the only difference between a sprinter and a distance swimmer. For example, a senior sprinter is probably the scariest human being you will ever see in your life. A high school sprinter is gonna be tall and ripped. A distance swimmer is gonna be much much skinnier. The reason for that is because distance swimmers can’t be heavy. Think about it. When swimming a 1500 freestyle (60 laps), and you are super big, it’s gonna be much harder. If your arms are massive, they’re gonna wear out and get tired much easier. The antonym of efficient is sprinter. But on the flip side, a bigger dude can just blow his energy on a sprint event. In sprinting, the bigger the better. (If you think I’m skinny, you should meet my friend Ephraim). For example, look at sprinters like Nathan Adrian or Caeleb Dressel, next to distance swimmers like Gregorio Paltrinieri or Kieran Smith. There is quite the difference.

The motto of sprinters is “Send it” and the motto of distance swimmers is “Efficiency is key”. It shows in daily life, too. A sprinter is usually much more hyper and energetic, and a distance swimmer is usually much more chill. Like literally so chill, they could literally fall asleep while skydiving. But really, who rules the pool? Is one swimmer better than the other? Well, you might think this is biased, but by far, the sprinter owns the pool. Sorry, not sorry you distance swimmers. Now look, here’s how I can conclude that... I’ve done both. It pains me to admit that, but yes, I was once a distance swimmer. I went through a weird stage when I got really good at long distance. But from my experience, the distance swimmers have it much easier. There is just so much pace work involved. With sprinting, the whole practice is just full throttle. Doing U.S.R.P.T. sets is, yes, much harder than a pace work set. The reason for that is probably the lactic acid buildup when sprinting. When you sprint, lactic acid builds more and more until your muscles burn and fatigue. The more that happens, the more endurance one can build, giving the swimmer more speed for their next sprint.

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This article has 1 comment.

JordynH BRONZE said...
on Mar. 31 2021 at 4:17 pm
JordynH BRONZE, Wyoming, Michigan
1 article 0 photos 2 comments
You had me in the beginning. I thought you were definitely a distance swimmer. When you were listing off all the reasons the sprinters were annoying, I though you were describing how they were towards you but really you are one! I really liked this piece and good job!