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Swimming is misunderstood. Because it’s not as popular as bigger sports like baseball or football, lots of misconceptions have been spread far and wide about how hard swimming is, what you need to do to swim fast, and who can be a good swimmer.

To set the record straight, we busted seven common swimming myths so you can approach your training with confidence. 

1. Swimming is Easy

Why do so many non-swimmers think they can beat swimmers in a race? Because they think swimming is easy, and anyone can do it without training. Well, that’s flat-out wrong! 

While it’s true that anyone can be a swimmer, the sport is not easy by any means. In fact, swimming is one of the most technical and demanding sports in the world!

Swimming requires a high level of cardiovascular fitness, plus an understanding of technique for four different strokes. Add to that the fact that swimmers can’t breathe freely, and I think you know where we’re going…swimming is tough!

2. Swimmers Don’t Sweat

Many swimmers fall victim to this next myth. Because they’re in the water, swimmers don’t think they sweat. In reality, swimmers sweat just as much as other athletes, but the water hides it!

In outdoor pools on hot days, swimmers sweat buckets! During tough workouts, you’ll notice that your fellow swimmers might start to turn red…that’s a sign the body is overheating and trying to regulate itself. 

Make sure you’re hydrating appropriately before, during and after your workouts to account for water and minerals lost in your sweat, and if your pool is extremely hot, consider adjusting your workouts to give yourself more rest. 

3. You Must Wait 1 Hour After Eating to Swim

This age-old rule is a good general guideline for safety, but it doesn’t always apply. It all depends on what you’re eating!

If you just ate a big meal, we recommend waiting two to three hours before heading to the pool. On the other hand, if you have eaten a banana, a couple slices of toast, or another light snack, you should be all set to swim within an hour (or less).

When it comes to fueling up, figure out what makes your body feel its best. Check out our interview with a registered dietitian to learn more about when to time your meals and what to eat for optimal fueling. 

4. Swimmers Don’t Pee in the Pool

We’d all like to think that swimmers hop out of the pool and run to the restroom to pee mid-workout. This, unfortunately, is not true.

The majority of swimmers have peed in the pool at least once. And many people pee in the pool almost every time they swim! The average Olympic-sized swimming pool could have up to 300 gallons of pee in it.

It’s not a great thing to think about, but remember that chlorine will neutralize any bacteria from urine and keep the water clean. If you’re curious to learn more about the effects of pee in the pool, watch our video!

5. Swimming More Will Make You Swim Faster

If you want to swim faster, you may have been told that you need to increase your swimming volume significantly. 

And while it is good in some cases to swim more, trying to max out your distance each week won’t guarantee you new personal bests. 

This is good news if you have a busy schedule: You don’t need to train 20 hours a week to be a good swimmer! Three to five hours a week is plenty for most of us.

It’s all about quality over quantity. Instead of pushing for a few extra thousand meters, spend time working on technique and improving your efficiency. It’s better to swim a shorter workout that’s all high quality, than to power through a long workout while your form falls apart.

Follow a structured training plan to make sure you’re getting the training you need to reach your goals. Download the MySwimPro app to start a personalized plan that fits your schedule!

6. You Can’t Learn to Swim as an Adult

Because so many swimmers start when they’re children, we hear a lot of adults say they could never learn to swim (or improve their strokes) because it’s too late.

Thankfully, this myth is totally busted! Whether you’re brand new to swimming or want to work on your stroke, you can absolutely see progress as an adult.

In fact, it may be advantageous to start swimming when you’re older, because you can build a strong foundation of technique. Many swimmers who started young end up with bad habits that can affect their form in later years. 

If you’re nervous about starting swimming as an adult, don’t be. Take it one step at a time, follow a plan, and in time you’ll be crushing laps like a pro.

7. All Strokes Are Created Equal

And finally, our last myth. The four competitive strokes are definitely not created equal. 

Each stroke has its own specific challenges, requiring plenty of time and effort to get right. Many swimmers, even after years of training, will have at least one stroke that’s challenging for them. It’s always a work in progress!

Related: Why You Should Swim All Four Strokes Every Workout

Most of us learn freestyle (or front crawl) first, and for good reason. It’s probably the easiest stroke of the four. Breaststroke takes second place, because the arm and leg movements come naturally for many people (but racing technique is a whole different story).

Backstroke is the third most difficult, in part because many people have a hard time floating on their backs and swimming in a straight line. And of course, butterfly is the toughest stroke by far. It uses every muscle in the body, and requires a strong understanding of timing and technique to swim fast. 

Analyze Your Stroke to Improve

The best way to improve your stroke, aside from consistent drill work, is stroke analysis. Watching video of yourself swimming can uncover imbalances or issues in your form that you may not have noticed before. 

We recommend using the Outex Phone Pro Kit to take underwater shots with your smartphone.

No need to purchase an expensive waterproof camera: Outex waterproof cases fit all popular smartphone brands, and allow you to capture professional quality photos and videos in the pool or open water without worrying about water damage.

The company was founded by an Olympic swimmer, who created these products with athletes in mind. Use code outexmyswimpro to save 10% on your order!

Train All Four Strokes in This Swim Workout

Start training all the strokes with this workout in the MySwimPro app! Focus on descending each rep in the main set (each rep should be faster than the last). Prioritize good technique and push yourself to swim fast!

  • Distance: 2,000 yards/meters
  • Duration: 45 minutes


  • 1×300 Freestyle Easy @ 5:00
  • 6×50 Kick Moderate @ 1:00

Main Set (2x)

  • 4×50 IM Order Moderate @ :50
  • 4×25 Butterfly Best Average Descend @ :30
  • 4×25 Backstroke Best Average Descend @ :30
  • 4×25 Breaststroke Best Average Descend @ :30
  • 4×25 Freestyle Best Average Descend @ :30
  • 1×100 Freestyle Easy @ 1:30

As you continue in your swimming journey, don’t be afraid to challenge these (and other) misconceptions about swimming. Drop a comment with your thoughts, or other myths you’d like to see busted!


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