Folk Speech

Folklore: Swimming Language

-Will you cap me?

Explanation: “Will you help me put my swim cap on?”

-Do 10 2’s, descend each one by 50s.

Explanation: “Swim 200 yards, getting faster every 50 years. Repeat 10 times.”

-We’re tapering this week.

Explanation: (It means taking it easy to rest up for a big meet)

-Ones ready go!  Two’s on the bottom.

Explanation: “Lane leaders off the wall, second swimmers leave when the clock says 30 seconds.”

-Leaving on the top.

Explanation: “Start the set when the second hand reaches 60 seconds.”

My Analysis:

Because the pace of swimming is pretty rigorous with very early morning hours, strenuous workouts and frequent meets, time tends to go by fast. Swimmers are clocked by the hundredths of a second, so abbreviations of language are just an extension of that quick mentality.  Jen also mentioned that because only swimmers intimately know this language after years of practice, experienced athletes will instantly know who is not really an established swimmer.

The language is a pretty essential part of the swimming culture because everyone speaks this way all the time. It’s interesting to note how numbers become the center point of the sport, not as a measure of points but a measure of speed. So most of the words spoken at meets or practices are spoken in terms of numbers.  This contrasts greatly with other sports like soccer or basketball, where other terminology such as passing, goalie, slam dunk are the main words.