I was a very lucky child because, growing up, we didn't have a pool in our backyard.
Let me be clear: I support swimming as a way of not dying when you're in water. If you find yourself in a pool or a lake or the giant hot tub in Kanye's living room, flapping your arms and legs around will help you stay afloat. But why do people put themselves in that situation in the first place? Why do people swim for fun?
Personally, I'm a big fan of air. When I'm in air, I don't need to flap my arms and legs around in order to survive. I just rest my limbs comfortably, and I'm still able to breathe. I don't even have to wear those inflatable floaty things on my arms. And the most convenient way to be surrounded by life-giving, breathable air is to simply not go into the swimming pool. And to avoid Los Angeles.
Most children learn to swim in the same way; a trusted adult says, "Jump in the pool. Trust me. I'll catch you." They never catch you. Between learning to swim, discovering the truth about Santa Claus, and being told they don't need alcohol to have a good time, I'm surprised kids believe anything adults tell them anymore.
Gun owners tell me that more children die each year in swimming pool accidents than in gun incidents. Though, in fairness, if swimming pools were filled with loaded guns, I suspect those statistics would be different.
Many high schools have swimming pools. In the history of school, no teenager has ever learned to swim during gym class, nor has any adolescent ever become a stronger swimmer from in-school swimming classes. But school administrators feel it's important for self-conscious young people to be nude in the locker room alongside their peers.
The front crawl is the easiest and fastest swimming stroke. Then they came up with a bunch of other pointless strokes so that Michael Phelps could win more gold medals.
Is the backstroke really necessary? And why is this a sport? There's no Olympic event called running backwards. Does Nike make a sneaker for that? (Oh, they do? Four hundred dollars!?)
No other sport calls itself a separate event when done backwards. Gold medal javelin throwers don't get a second medal if they toss the javelin behind their back. Nobody watched the Super Bowl on rewind... although it would've made for a more entertaining game. "The Broncos keep catching up!"
I'm still waiting for the inventor of the butterfly stroke to come up with something even more athletically useless and difficult. How about a stroke that requires you to keep both arms moving simultaneously with an accompanying kick while at the same reciting the transcript from Larry King's divorce court proceedings?
Some people prefer the breaststroke because you keep your head out of the water for much of the time that you're doing it. It's the same reason why people prefer to not be water boarded. Here's an interesting thought. You can do the breaststroke in public. But you can't stroke breast in public. Hey, don't give me that look; it's like calling something a "bonerstroke" and not expecting people to make jokes.
Triathlons would be more popular without swimming. Swimming is the weak link of the triathlon. Nobody wants to swim. They want to run and bike, but they don't want... actually, nobody wants to bike, either. Triathlons would be much more popular if they changed the events to running, walking, and, oh, let's say eating.
There's not a lot to do on a golf course but to play golf. There's not a lot to do at a movie theater but to watch the movie... and have oral sex. And that's because people like to do those things. But there's nothing enjoyable about swimming. So they've come up with all this other stuff to do in a pool: volleyball, water slides, sitting on inner tubes, peeing. On a hot day, some people just like to stand around in the pool, because, when the temperature is physically uncomfortable, apparently standing in lukewarm water with the sun beating down on you is preferable to staying inside.
There is a myth that you're supposed to wait an hour after eating before going into the water. It's interesting how some ridiculous superstitions quickly fade away, but others stick with us, like waiting an hour to swim after eating or throwing salt over your shoulder or God. My great-great-great-grandfather came up with the dictum that sneezing on a Thursday brings bad luck, but it never really caught on. As a matter of fact, you can swim after eating... unless your meal was from Taco Bell, in which case you should probably hold off from doing anything for at least an hour afterwards.
Some people never learned to swim. Sometimes, they're embarrassed by this. But it's really not a big deal. My grandmother never learned to drive a car. That's a big deal. It's important to have a driver's license. I mean, if you're hungry, you don't swim to the grocery store. But the ability to swim serves the same purpose as the ability to ski down a mountain; it's only necessary if you ski down a mountain.
It behooves one, I suppose, when writing about swimming, to mention "skippy dipping." But skinning dipping isn't swimming; it's dipping. Anyone swimming laps in the pool while surrounded by naked people is kind of missing the point. (Note: And if you choose to go skinny dipping, I do recommend doing it with other people. It's much more fun that way.)
Oh, I'm probably being a bit unfair. Of course there are some benefits to swimming, like exercise and competition. However, you can get those same benefits from other activities- without getting your hair wet.