Authorities have become increasingly concerned about a possible epidemic of problem swimming and the associated cost to individuals, families and society in general! The problem manifests itself in similar ways to other social problems and addictions. Most notably: our health services are being overwhelmed with shoulder injuries; problem swimmers who are unable to hold down a job, retiring early; and marriage problems are on the increase due to what doctor's call "swimmer's widow" syndrome.
How do you tell if someone has a swimming problem? In general, they are easy to spot as they appear healthy, fit, suntanned with a general happy demeanor. However, it's just a facade and one of the hideous side effects of this addiction.
In general, problem swimmers can be divided into two groups: swimming junkies and binge swimmers.
Swimming junkies usually start at a pool swimming a few laps socially or for recreational purposes, but this quickly escalates to experimenting with different strokes. Like those who go from the occasional puff, to snorting and mainlining drugs, it is a slippery slope from freestyle to backstroke and then breaststroke. Before you realise you have a problem, you are doing butterfly and IMs!
Binge swimmers cant stop once they start. They can be seen swimming lap after lap at the local pool; or as the disease progresses, the pool becomes too small and they turn to open water swimming or in more extreme cases - marathon swimming!
Swimming also has its extreme religious groups or cults. Some of these groups meet at the pool on Sunday mornings and try and entice casual swimmers into joining them using hard core strokes for timed swims over long distances. Just remember, these extremists have built up a tolerance to swimming and can swim for millions of metres while still appearing unaffected.
Authorities are also struggling to deal with the rise in organised swimming. Swimming gangs - often masquerading as "clubs" or 'associations"- are thought to be behind a multi-million dollar industry pushing swimming. At the street or pool level, unsuspecting swimmers are encouraged to join a so-called "club". Before they know it, they have been initiated into a closely knit group, forced to socialise and train regularly, as well as attend "Club" gatherings wearing "club" colours.
The general public need not be alarmed, but the important message to get across to the swimming community is "Swim responsibly, know your limit and just say "No" when you have had enough!"