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Competitive Swimming Pool Trivia

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Surprise! Swimming is interesting!

Swimming TriviaOn New Year’s Eve, I found myself discussing new year’s resolutions with a group of friends at a party.

I told them that one of my goals was to get to the pool more regularly (note: this is an extremely obtainable goal, now that my 5 & 8 year old have evening swim practice). Non-swimmers at the party started asking unusual questions about swimming that I happily answered.

Then it dawned on me: their questions weren’t unusual at all! I took a step backward (mentally – so to speak) and concluded that the sport of swimming is as interesting as it is challenging!

With that in mind, I’ve compiled a short list of swimming trivia questions and facts to interest and amuse swimmers of all ages.

How long is an Olympic Swimming Pool?

Many swimmers have undoubtedly had to bite their tongues when the general public bats around the term “Olympic Swimming Pool.”

  • Question: How often does the new apartment complex or hotel really contain an “Olympic Swimming Pool”?
  • Answer: Never!

Olympic pools are 50 meters long, also known as a “long course” pool. Short course pools are 25 yards or 25 meters.

  • Question: True or False, Olympic pools are exactly 50 meters long.
  • Answer: False! Technically a pool must allow a full 50 meters of water between touchpads to satisfy international competitive standards mandated by FINA (and USA Swimming), the international governing body of swimming. However, Olympic pools are typically oversized, to allow timing touchpads to be placed over the pool wall, without shortening the pool to a length below the required 50 meter distance*.

* FINA allows a distance tolerance of plus .03 meters, but you can’t go shorter than 50 meters!

How cold (warm) is a Competitive Swimming Pool?

  • Question: What pool water temperature is required for competition (FINA / USA Swimming)?
  • Answer: 75º F – 82.4º F (that’s converted from 25° C – 28° C).

Temperature extremes inhibit performance, so don’t believe the rumor that the water is kept cold to jar the body into reacting with a personal best.

When were swim goggles first used in the Olympics?

This fact really caught me off guard. I knew my grandfather Adolph Kiefer didn’t wear goggles. But then I remembered pictures of Mark Spitz blasting through the water mustache first in the 1972 Olympics – still no goggles!

  • Answer: Swim goggles weren’t used in the Olympics until 1976 in Montreal.
  • Bonus Fact: Swim goggles were first used in international competition by David Wilkie in the 1970 Commonwealth Games.

What is the Fastest Swim Stroke?

  • Question: What is the fastest swim stroke?
  • Answer: Freestyle

Ok, picking the fastest stroke might seem easy. But if you’re not a competitive swimmer, you might not even be able to do so. Here is how the 4 competitive swim strokes rank in speed (starting with the fastest).

  1. Freestyle
  2. Butterfly
  3. Backstroke
  4. Breaststroke

Many swimmers think Butterfly is the most taxing stroke – but it isn’t the slowest. Surprised?

Do Swimmers Sweat When They Swim?

  • Question: Do swimmers sweat?
  • Answer: Yes!

Your body temperature rises as you swim, just as it does with any physical activity. If the exertion from swimming causes your temperature to rise to sufficient heights, your body will sweat.

Don’t forget! Hydrate during swim workouts – you can’t see it – but a good pool workout and the right environmental conditions will make you perspire!

Heard Any Other Good Swimming Trivia?

This was only a short list – and I’ll be keeping a running list for upcoming swim trivia posts.

Maybe you’ve got one to share? Please let me know.

See you at the pool,


About Robin Kiefer

Robin Spencer Kiefer is a lifetime fitness swimmer and endurance athlete. After becoming an Ironman in 2008, Robin continues to push the limits of marketing & parenting. He is the Vice President of Digital Marketing and Ecommerce at Kiefer.

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