I think that the main reason for this reaction is the fact that most people are not fully educated on what a swim team actually does. I'm going to try to fix this problem in a short lesson called, "Swim Team 101". First off we need to fix some common assumptions about a swim team. Not all the kids at the pool are some scrawny kid whose equally scrawny parent is making them do this to, " get in shape" and, "bulk up". Furthermore not all kids have to wear the torture device known as the speedo.
These common misconception are often what account for the strange glances when you talk about swim team. It is true that not all kids are going to be the next Michael Phelps and are at the pool willing, but at the same time there are plenty of kids who enjoy swimming as a sport and are there on their own accord. Also why a couple of teams do require a speedo, these teams are almost always filled with ripped teenagers who have never lost a race in their lives. So you might be asking yourself what do you where on a swim team? The answer is a pair of jammers. Jammers are sometimes often produced by speedo but they provide a little more fabric.
Another important thing about a swim team is what you actually do during practice. You do not flop around doing doggy paddle and water aerobics, you work out. There are two different main types of workouts that we do in the water, tech and yard work. When most of my coaches were swimming in high school and collage the idea of practice was to pound out as many yards as you could. This made sense in the fact that you would be able to build a great amount of endurance while getting fit. The problem with this method was that swimming is a sport of precision. A hundredth of a second could mean the difference between winning and loosing so your stroke needs to be as perfect as possible, any issues means a slower time. So when you were doing as many yards as possible if you had any problems in your stroke they became so embedded that they were almost impossible to fix. Swim teams still want to bust out yards but they also need to make sure you're doing them correctly. This is where the tech part of practice comes into play. During tech you work out all the details of your stroke. You focus on things like making sure that your feet are at the right angle to provide you with the most efficient way to move through the water, or simpler thing like making sure your fingers stay squeezed together to allow maximum surface area grip. By combining these two things into practice you make sure that you are going the fastest you possible can in meets.
Of course if you are not swimming doggy paddle then what are you swimming? There are four strokes that are used.
When people here butterfly they think flopping around and drowning. While buttfly is hard, when performed correctly it becomes gracefull and looks effortless. The kick is like a dolphin, both your legs are pressed together and move up and down. But the the kick does not just include your legs the waving motion goes through your whole body. Your chest presses down and up and your abs and hips contractand snapp. The arm motion is not a wild swing of your arms in circles, but is made up of precise steps. Your arms hit the water strait out in front of you the immediately your elbows bend and your hands move close to your chest. This is when you breathe while keeping your head down. From here your arms straitened again leaving the water and staying low loop back around to above your head. This is how to swim proper butterfly
Backstroke as I'm sure you figured out is done on your back. Your legs flutter one up one down. Your arm breaks the water with your palm facing your body. Your hand then swivels so that when it enters the water the back of you hand is now facing your body. From there your arm moves away bending your elbow you push down on the water until your arm is strait by your side. While strait ending your arm your other arm breaks the water and starts to swings around. This is how backstroke is swum.
Breast stroke is thought of as the frog stroke. Your arms gather the water underneath you until they almost touch you belly button. From there your arms flip so your palms face the ceiling or sky and shoot out infront of your body. For the kick your leg below your knee bends out first and then snaps back into the other leg bringing you into a streamline for a second.
Often called freestyle the front crawl is the fastest of all the strokes. It uses the same flutter kick as the backstroke, but your legs stay closer together. Your arm goes strait in front of you while your body turns on its side. As soon as your arm touches the water it snaps down into a 90 degree angle rolling you onto your stomach. Your other arm does the same thing as the first arm comes out of the water. Your arms are not moving opposite. For most of the stroke they are in front of you. This makes it easier to float. During a meet the front crawl event will be called freestyle which means you can do whatever stroke you want, but most people choose front crawl because it is the fastest and most efficient.
I hope that by reading this you have been able to learn something about the sport of swimming and cleanse you mind of some of the stereotypes about this great sport