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Swimming Songs

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Swimming Songs

Swimming Songs

Recommended gear: Finis Duo Underwater MP3 Player.

Music is a fantastic tool for motivating swimmers. Music can be used to calm, to pump up, and anything in between. Variety makes for versatility, so read on to learn about a few new songs that may take your swimming to the next level.

The First Underwater Music Player: Human Memory

Music can be used for pacing at practice; I swam with Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” echoing in my head for distance sets when I was in high school. It set up a perfect tempo for me. It can be used a prepping tool.

My coach advised me to pick a song and assign it to my signature race, the 200 butterfly. I listened to it pre-race everytime getting ready for my first Olympic Trials in 2000. I chose Stevie Nicks “Stand Back.”

In subsequent years I used this technique for other races while in college, but I was less consistent.

The first NCAA title I won in the 500 free was a la Pink’s “Just like a Pill” and the following year my theme song for the 500 was LL Cool J’s “Headsprung.”  And yes I did defend my title. Those songs got my heart rate up, got me excited. “Headsprung” was especially awesome for me because of the tempo, I could set it to my stroke and just churn it out.

Technology Replaces Human Memory- Enter the Underwater MP3 Player

Now I train with music in my ears, thanks to new technology. I can rock out all the time. It makes practice more fun for me. I can choose songs to fit sets and really get into a groove.

When I attend master’s competitions I do the same thing I have always done. Listen to a specifically chosen song to get me race ready.

In no particular order, these are my 10 favorite practice/racing songs at the moment. There have been other favorites and will be new favorites, this is a hard list to make since I LOVE music.

“The Night Out” Martin Solveig (sprinting)

“Breakn a Sweat” Skrillex and The Doors (distance)

“Headsprung” LL Cool J (500 Free/nostalgia)

“Stand Back” Stevie Nicks (200 fly/nostalgia)

“Look Away” Big Country (distance)

“Alive” Daft Punk (yes the entire album, yes I know this is cheating)

“S & M” Metallica and the San Francisco Orchestra (yes, cheating again)

“This Must be the Place” Talking Heads (anything)

“Smile Upon Me” Passion Pit (IM)

“Warrior” Kimbra (IM)

And just like that I’m out of numbers, even with cheating. I have a fondness for many types of music. Most distance training I do is set to some kind of rock music. Obviously Metallica is a favorite, but in high school my training was dominated by heavy metal, Metallica was stuck somewhere in the middle. Now I’m nostalgic but mix in what I dare call hipster-ish music. I never hear it on the radio, but discovered most of it by listening to odd Pandora stations on my phone.

My Two Favorite Swimming To Music Moments

1) USA Swimming video with Van Halen rocking “Right Now” in the background. Dubbed “Dreams of Glory” this stuff truly was a dream maker to young swimmers in the early 90’s, myself included.

2) Filmed preceding the London Games in 2012, the  USA Swimming National Team performing “Call me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen. You can feel and see the fluidity and strength of this group through the fun and camaraderie they have- priceless!

Do Swimmers Rock?

Yes, they do. But are there famous swimmers in the music scene?  Yes of course! Haven’t you ever heard of DJ Tyler Clary, I mean DJ Copasetic? Or Anthony Ervin; he dabbles in the DJ booth too as well as on the guitar. Eugene Godsoe likes to do acoustic covers and post them to his YouTube page.

Songs About Swimming

With all the musically inclined swimmers, you might think there would be some solid songs about competitive swimmer out there- but you’d be wrong! However, I’ve researched and made a fairly obscure list of songs with swimming themes and will leave them here with you.

“Pool Party” Aquabats

“Just Keep Swimming” Finding Nemo Soundtrack

“The Swimming Song” Loudon Wainwright III

“Twisting by the Pool” Dire Straits

“I Go Swimming” Peter Gabriel

“Channel Swimmer” 10cc

“Anchor Song” Bjork

“Underwater Love” Faith no More

“Night Swimming” REM “Daughter” Peter Blegvad

So what about you?  I would love to hear about songs that motivate you, or songs about swimming I have overlooked. How do you use music in swimming?

About Emily Milak

Emily Milak is a lifetime competitive swimmer living in Southeastern Wisconsin. Emily is a US National Team champion, NCAA champion, and USMS champion with extensive coaching experience. She is a product development consultant at Kiefer.

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I've been a swimmer my whole life. My parents started me with lessons as a three-year-old and by five, I had joined my first team. I started swimming year-round at eight and by thirteen, I was qualified for Junior Nationals. By fifteen, I was a member of the US National Junior Team (National 'B' Team) and a Senior National Qualifier. I attended my first Olympic Trials in 2000 and finished third in the 200 butterfly. I am a US National Champion, three-time NCAA Champion, NCAA record holder, and was a member of the US National 'A' Team for five years. I've competed in two World Championships, two Duel in the Pools, a Pan Pacific Championship where I earned a bronze medal in the 200 fly, and competitor in the Goodwill Games. I love to swim and love to coach. I have been working with 12 & Unders for the past ten years including a lengthy stint as the head age group coach in Houston, TX with the toughest bunch of little swimmers I have ever had the privilege of working with. Now I am a mom who swims! I substitute coach and swim master's. I have only competed at one Master's Nationals, but walked away a two-time champion.

  • Minky says:

    I swim everyday 7 days a week, and I would not be without a Sony Walkman MP3 player that’s waterproof they make for swimming. It is well worth the money and I have turned all my friends and other swimmers on to it. On line there has been bad reviews about some of these players, be I have found that if mine has a problem it is of my doing. I have found things on the player that the Sony people did not know about, and I fix the player on my own because it turns out that the player is not at fault, the owner pushed the wrong buttons and got into files that are in the player. These are things the booklet that comes with the player does not tell you, but I love this player so much I made it a point to know how to keep it going. Also it is the most comfortable player without hanging wires, that is made, you can use it in your daily life also and load audio books on it .

  • Emily Milak says:

    Caitlin I recommend starting with your own personal race pace tempo. If you are tempo counting your cycles you can find a beat and match it to a song. Or go with what feels good to you and gets you pumped up. However maybe something calming or soothing before your race would help you combat the nerves. Practice those racing starts as often as you can outside competition as well. Make it a familiar routine.

  • Caitlin says:

    So I love listening to music how do I know what song is right for a race and I always sike myself out before I race and false start and react slow due to being scared and nervous what should I do?

  • Nancy Schneider says:

    Where do you get an underwater listening device

    • Emily Milak says:

      Nancy I prefer to get an ipod shuffle with waterproofing. I have not used anything or tested anything else. They don’t last more than about 18 months is my only complaint. I’ve used underwateraudio in the past for ordering.

  • mrbluebass says:

    Hi, I’m a swimmer and musician and have been doing both for over fifty years.. Here are a few from my generation: C’mon and Swim-Bobby Freeman; Splish Splash-Bobby Darin:Swim Good-Frank Ocean; Beyond the Sea-Bobby Darin.

  • Katey says:

    I didn’t know about the underwater player – that’s awesome!

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