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I’m not talking about being able to lift massive amounts of weight in the gym, but relative strength.(Although freestyler Nathan Adrian’s 160 pound dumbbell bench press—per arm—might have something to say about that.) Michael Phelps could do over 30 pull ups at a time.Before the start of every race Michael Phelps gets up on the blocks and wrap-slaps his arms and hands behind his back.Phelps’ also has remarkably flexible ankles, and hyper-extending knees and elbows.
Stiff, weathered-looking and border-line brittle, like you could break it off if you twisted it with too much enthusiasm. To go along with all the other backside muscular awesomeness swimmers are also gifted with bulging triceps. This leads to some tortured and lengthy hotel shave down sessions for some of the more developed males, and lamentable amounts of ‘splaining by the ladies for why they have hairy legs between meets.Although there is the misconception that chlorine turns our hair green (the culprits there are “old brass fittings, gas-heater coils, trace copper in the water supply or residue from copper-based algicides that are dissolved in the water”), it’s more the perpetual sogginess, the tangles and the nearly surfer-boy look that our hair takes on that identifies us. A swimmer with large shoulders, and the expansive to go along with it… For everyone except for those weird breaststrokers (I only call you guys weird because I never learned to master the stroke. No matter how many times we hear—“but does it really make that much of a difference? We understand that it is impossible to replace that feeling when we first dive in after a shave and sensing as though someone had slapped a prop to our backside.So maybe I am a little jealous…) swimmers use their triceps to finish the stroke, meaning that over the course of their careers they do about 3.2 million tricep extensions. And that no matter how many times we nick ourselves, and how many times we shaved against the grain (can you tell I sucked at shave downs yet?(Which is also how tall Missy Franklin and Aussie sprinter Cate Campbell are.) But fear not my vertically challenged friends, there is still room for those who weren’t born to NBA-sized parents. David Berkoff, the guy whose underwater dolphin kick was one of the stories of the 1988 Seoul Olympics, was 5’8.More currently, Japanese superstar Kosuke Hagino is 5’8”, showing that while the general trend of swimmers is tall, it’s not a deal breaker if you aren’t.
There are a ton of benefits for choosing swimming as your sport of choice, but probably none that serves our vanity quite as much as having a swimmer’s body.