What is a Swim Team?

Ask any swimmer ‘what is a swim team?’ and they’ll provide the obvious answer.

And while the answer probably isn’t wrong, it’s also not complete either. A swim team is more than just swimmers. Being on a swim team is dedication, support, and mentorship.

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And while a swim team isn’t for everyone, it’s a good option for those looking to join a swim team.

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What is a Swim Team?

In a nutshell. A swim team consists of a group of swimmers who train and compete together. Teams can have as few as two swimmers or as many as 2000. Each team might have a single coach or several based upon the size of the team. 

Similarly, most teams have different groups/levels that swimmers can advance throughout their swimming career. Such as junior varsity and varsity for high school swimming. Or a bronze, silver, and gold level for club swimming.

A swim team helps swimmers come together to encourage and push one other in the water.

It builds close friendships and acts as a family to some. Creating a close-knit group of individuals who can both cheer for each other or yell at each other 🙂

Why Swim on a Swim Team?

It’s hard to train by yourself. No matter what sport or activity you’re in. Working out alone is hard because you lack someone there to push you. Or encourage you.

And swimming is no different. Especially because swimmers spend most of their time with their heads underwater!

Related article: 10 Myths About Swim Teams

Because of this, some swimmers find greater motivation and encouragement when they train with other swimmers.

This might be on an actual team or with a friend or two. Having someone around to help push them through challenging sets is a benefit most swimmers take advantage of.

That’s not to say though that some swimmers can’t train alone. Some do! And they’re very successful at it. It’s honestly what works best for each swimmer and adapting to that process.

Isn’t Swimming an Individual Sport?

Yes and no.

Yes, swimming can be an individual sport. We train with others on teams, but it’s an individual effort. Teams might do some form of team-building exercises (which they should!) but the majority of the time, swimmers swim alone in a lane full of people.

Even in competition, we compete against others with no support from a team. Unless you’re on a relay.

But. Even though we compete individually and train individually amongst a team, we still rally to support each other as a team. Whether that’s at practice or a meet. Teammates cheer each other along.

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They also offer their support and guidance when needed to other teammates.

So while swimmers compete and train individually, it’s very much so a team environment. One where everyone comes together to help each other out. 

What Does it Mean to be on a Swim Team?

Being on a swim team means different things for each swimmer. Just as every swimmer wants something specific out of their swimming experience. 

Related article: 10 Reasons to Start Competitive Swimming

But despite the differences, certain things remain the same across the board when it comes to being on a swim team.


A swim team means commitment. Yes, you can skip practices if you want. But if you’re paying fees/dues and all the other various costs associated with swim teams it’s not in your best interest. 

It’s like buying a gym membership and never using it.

That said, it takes commitment to be on a swim team. It means showing up to practice and putting in the work. And it means watching your nutrition throughout the year. Swimming, especially on a team, requires a full-time commitment. Both in and out of the pool.

Instant Group of Friends 

But one of the upsides of joining a swim team is that you have an instant group of friends. Or at least a group of people you know.

Related article: 5 Things to Know Before Joining a Swim Team

This is a nice benefit if you’re starting a new school or grade and don’t know anyone. You’ll see your teammates more than you’ll see people at school (or work). You’ll interact with them on a much closer basis and you’ll find that they understand what you’re going through.

Mainly because they’re in the same pool as you 😉

Do you have to like everyone? Nope! Swim teams aren’t usually a popularity contest and you’ll never make everyone happy. And although you might navigate towards a certain group of swimmers over time, it’s important to remember to treat your teammates with respect.

Even if you don’t always see eye-to-eye.

Some Swimmers Look up to You

Being apart of any team means that at some point, you might have someone who looks up to you. Someone who comes to you with their questions and concerns. 

Even if you’re not the fastest swimmer on the team, chances are, someone still looks up to you. Whether it’s for your work effort, your compassion and willingness to help out others, or because you’re fast.

Regardless of the reason, being on a swim team means that you have the chance to be a role model for someone. To act as a mentor to someone who just joined the team or to a younger swimmer.

To be the better person who shuts down negative team gossip and get the team to focus again.

It’s not always glamorous and it’s an epic undertaking in responsibility. But don’t ever let it deter you from doing what’s right and setting that standard. More people watch you as an athlete than you realize. 

Both in and out of the pool.

So be respectful, strong, and encouraging. You never know who you’re inspiring! 🙂

You Look up to Others

Just as some swimmers might look up to you, you might look up to other swimmers. 

Again, it doesn’t mean that you have to look up to the fastest swimmer on the team. Or the most popular. What motivates and inspires varies by person. 

The slowest person on the team might have the best attitude and personality. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to emulate that in your life.

If you do find that there’s someone you look up to, try to thank them for being a positive role model for you. Or for assisting you when you needed help. They’ll probably appreciate the gratitude.

Shared Experiences 

One thing about being on a swim team is that everyone has similar experiences that they share. Such as early morning workouts, long afternoon practices, the smell of chlorine, and little free time. The list goes on 😀

Swimmers understand what you’re going through because they’re going through it at the same time. Or have gone through it already.

And while we love our non-swimming friends, it’s hard to explain to them why we can’t skip practice. Or why we’ll be late or have to leave because of practice.

Having individuals who share that understanding makes it easier on some days. Especially when it feels like you’re letting your friends or family down by declining yet again because of practice. 

A swim team becomes a small family of sorts. And it’s good to have your teammates there to lean on when times get difficult. Because as much as our friends and family try to understand and help, it’s something you can’t exactly explain.

As always, to happy swimming!


Bonus Content

What to Look for in a Swim Team: How do you find the best swim team? When it comes time to look for a swim team, choosing the right swim depends mainly on: what do you want?

5 Good Reasons You Should Be on a Swim Team (coming soon)

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1 thought on “What is a Swim Team?”

  1. Im doing a project for school about swimming and this was on of the best websites that I’ve read about being on a swim team.

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