Monday, July 11, 2011

The Developmental Stages of Swimmer Potty Training

This kid is still in developmental stage 1

Last week, when Gus was telling the story of his coming-of-age in swimming, I’m sure many readers were taken back by the part about getting pee’d on in the shower by his teammates in a weird sort of initiation.  I chuckled, but mostly because I was surprised that he admitted to it.  I would have said I was the one doing the peeing.  Non-swimmers really don’t need to know that part of the story, eh?

The fact is, if you were a male swimmer, you get it.  That’s just part of it. And don’t give me a damn lecture about chloramines… I know all that stuff.  I just don’t care.  Peeing is a sport specific skill for us.  It takes focus and perseverance to attain mastery.  I can tell a rookie in the pool by watching how stiff their strokes are, how inaccurate their turns and streamlines are, and by the fact that they still take bathroom breaks. 

Don’t believe me?  Please, allow me to take you through the developmental stages of this ever so important technical aspect of competitive swimming.

1)  We are all born with the innate skill of letting loose in the water.  It is kind of like the breath-holding reflex that babies have in the pool that goes away right before you sign them up for their first swim lesson at 6 months.  Kids can just relax and let it go to maximize their playtime.  We have all seen the kid who pauses and gets that look on his face when he is playing in the zero depth area.  Sometimes it comes from the wrong end and the pool has to shut down for a few hours.  Sometimes they aren’t with it enough to realize they shouldn’t announce it: “Mom, I don‘t have to go potty anymore!”  The really clueless, genius and talented ones actually climb up on the diving board and pull down their suits to test parabola theorem with their pee stream.

The statue is of a local hero in Issaquah, Washington who saved the local 50 meter pool by putting out the guard shack fire of 1979 from atop the 3 meter diving board.

2)  That innate reflex eventually goes away when young Johnny joins swim team and takes way too many bathroom breaks because he wants to get out of the hard part of practice.  He is probably crossing streams with one of the other boys who chose to skip out on the set too.  Some of them actually still believe there is a chemical in the pool that will turn the water around them into a red cloud to identify them as a pool pee’er.  Eventually they all figure out that it‘s a wives‘ tale.

3)  All swimmers soon learn to just stay in the pool so coach doesn’t yell at them.  This typically correlates with the time a child makes his first AAA cut and realizes that practice actually has some value.  At this stage we all get really good at peeing between sets and our pee face eventually becomes very similar to our “pretending to listen very carefully to what coach is saying at this critical moment” face.

4)  Some time around sophomore year in high school, after having been pee’d on by upper classmen as a freshman, you start becoming comfortable enough with your potty training to actually start peeing on those poor suckers who were born a little later than you.  The first time is always the funniest because you never realize why this senior is taking such an interest in you and is invading your personal bubble in the shower while asking you about your goals until everyone starts laughing about someone else’s urine running down your leg.  Haha.  If not for the smell, this would be a real hit at parties.  It is comedy gold.  Gold, I tell ya!

5)  At the elite level there is a new element added:  these guys are expected to be able to pee on command when WADA comes knocking on their door for a sample.  Some of them are so well-trained that they actually pee their pants any time someone knocks on their door at 7am.  In workout, they can actually pee while they streamline on a set without missing a beat.  Anyone who swims at a world class level cannot afford to give up a single second to run to the bathroom.  An Olympic medal might be on the line.  Some other guy in some other country is training just as hard as you are, and he isn’t taking a bathroom break.  Suck it up.  The best in the world can pee while in full sprint. Jason Lezak can pee through his pores.  Seriously, he is that good.

Cartman hates training in Lezak's lane

This whole peeing in practice thing is the real reason why non-permeable fabrics were banned.  Think about it.  You wouldn’t want to pee in a Jaked01 either.  Really. I imagine the legs might fill up like the kid in this video. While I admire that astronaut lady who drove 17 hours in the adult diaper so she wouldn’t have to stop for potty breaks and think she was awesomely hardcore, I would have to draw a line somewhere.  Peeing in the tech suit might just be taking things a bit too far. 

Some things are too disgusting to even talk about.  Sick.  Just sick.

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