One of my favorite things about competitive swimming is how it is a true coed sport. While most sports, have both men and women’s teams, these teams exist in a relatively separated space. Men and women’s soccer games are not held at the same time. Baseball and softball have different equipment and techniques. Separate coaching staffs are designated for men and women’s basketball. This is usually not the case in swimming.
In swimming, men and women teams often have the same group of coaches. In swimming, it is more common for training to be divided up based on a swimmer’s stroke than their gender. Unlike many other sports, there is little difference between the training of a male or female swimmer. The technique and execution of a stroke is the same, allowing for swimmers to follow the same training regimen no matter their gender. This allows colleges to hire one head coach to oversee a large, combined program. This is what makes the college swimming atmosphere so unique.
In a society where gender influences most sports, swimming presents and united playing field. There are some sports, such as football and basketball, where the emphasis is placed on the men’s team. There are others, including cheer and dance, where women exclusively shine. This is not the case in swimming. Swim meets are held together, with men and women competing in event back to back. Conference tournaments are often held at the same time in one location. For the same interaction in a sport like soccer, the men and women’s team would have to be playing a game at the same time, with the women on half of the field and the men on the other. Swimming breaks the gender barrier by allowing athletes the opportunity to not be limited by their sex.