The attributes of lifelong swimmers

Lifelong Swimmers

Outdoor Swimmer is 10 this year. As the founder, original editor and now publisher, it’s been fascinating to see the changes and growth in outdoor swimmer since 2011. At the same time, many of the people who helped get Outdoor Swimmer started are still active in the outdoor swimming world, and still swimming. This got me thinking about the attributes of people who become long-term or even lifelong swimmers.

Persistence and consistency

Lifelong swimmers tend to have swimming as a constant factor in their lives, rather than dipping in and out. Sometimes things, like global pandemics or injury, get in the way, but these people find a way to stay connected to swimming and get back to it quickly after enforced absence.


There is always more to learn about swimming and lifelong swimmers stay curious and keep asking questions. How can they make further improvements to their swimming?

How can increase my tolerance to the cold? How can I swim further?


Related to curiosity, lifelong swimmers are open to new swimming experiences and ideas.


Lifelong swimmers are generous with the knowledge and experience. They often go out of their way to encourage others to take up swimming and stick with it.


Becoming a better swimmer takes time. Making changes to your swimming technique takes hours of practice.

Adapting to cool water or building endurance is an on-going process.

Lifelong swimmers don’t expect immediate results but are prepared to keeping practising.


Being optimistic is a useful trait for a swimmer, especially in the face of adversity such as recovering from an injury or pressing through a tough spell on a long-distance swim.


People who stay in swimming for the long-term become part of a community and develop a network of friends and acquaintances in the sport.


Lifelong swimmers are reliable. If they agree to meet you at five in the morning for a swim, they will be there.


A degree of self-belief is a useful attribute for a long-term swimmer. You need to believe that the effort you put in now will deliver results. You need confidence when you sign up for a challenge that you will be able to complete it. However, this self-belief needs to be tempered with realism.

These are just some of my observations. I always like to hear from readers. Do you agree or disagree? What else have you seen? Let me know.

01 Cover October

Issue 54 October 2021

  • We Swim Proud: The LGBTQ+ experience of swimming outdoors
  • Autumn Adventures: The best places to wild swim this autumn
  • Crowning Glory: Courtney Paulk’s historic Double Triple Crown
  • Cassie Patten: What is the best style front crawl stroke for the open water?
  • Access All Areas: The problem of making lidos more accessible to disabled swimmers

Swim Wild and Free

Sign up to our newsletter and receive a free five-part series on the fundamentals of freestyle by Olympic silver medallist Keri-anne Payne.