“Do Olympic or competitive swimmers ever pee in the pool?” asks a thread on Quora. With the XXX Olympiad underway and all the excitement from various swimming events building, it’s a legitimate concern to have—one that strikes at an assumption of professionalism. The real question should be more of a confession: “I pee in the pool when I’m just splashing about. I wonder if Missy Franklin and Michael Phelps do too…”
At the heart of the question is a desire for there to be a connection between us lumpy non-Olympians, and the human freaks of nature who we are so enthralled with. Carly Geehr, a former USA Swimming National Team Member and graduated biomechanical engineer from Stanford, took it upon herself to let us know how close we are to Olympic gold.
“Nearly 100% of elite competitive swimmers pee in the pool. Regularly. Some deny it, some proudly embrace it, but everyone does,” Geehr writes in her response post. Because it’s such a given, she elaborates and reveals a more enticing question: “when does said peeing happen?”
1. The only practical time for a swimmer to vent her fluids during a race is during a breaststroke pull-out (the underwater gliding part). “You spend enough time gliding that if you really gotta go, you probably could. Otherwise, you’re too tense and too, well, busy to even think about peeing,” says Geehr.
2. If you can’t go during a race but the bladder is feeling particularly enlarged, the only alternative is before the race. “You always try to pee before you swim, but sometimes your body defies logic and finds a way to refill your bladder just to spite you,” says Geehr. The athletes are excited or nervous and their bodies are flooded with different chemicals. No matter the preparation, a swimmer can find herself in need of relieving on the deck. “Well, it’s not uncommon to splash yourself before you climb up on the blocks, so that extra liquid on yourself and the pool deck affords you an interesting opportunity. (I’ll let you finish the rest of that thought),” writes Geehr.
3. When it comes to warm-up or practice, anything goes in the pool. “As a swimmer, you just have to accept that you’re swimming in pee,” writes Geehr. “I’m sure I’ve swum directly behind people who were just letting it all out.”
Fear not friends. Everybody pees. And even the best pee in pools. But with our high-definition televisions and DVRs shouldn’t we be able to capture aforementioned urination on screen? “The only way you can really tell if someone’s peeing in the pool is if they announce it to you or they’re really dehydrated/sitting in one spot while they go,” says Geehr. “It diffuses pretty quickly, and if you’re moving, it diffuses even faster.” Just keep swimming.
Image Credit: Washington Post