My older brother swam the butterfly in high school, as well as free style. And spitting out pool water in between strokes became habit. When I asked him why he sucked in pool water and then spewed it out of his mouth, he shrugged and said, “I don’t know. Because I can, I guess.”
So it is with the Olympic swimmers we’re watching on NBC this week. They spit water simply because they can. And that fact has run around the Internet the last two days as if it were breaking news.
While swimmers routinely spit pool water, many of them have their own mojo, too. Reuters ran a story about the superstitious rituals that many Olympians maintain to ensure success. Swimmer Michael Phelps, who also spits pool water, never varies on race day. He wears his headset to the block, slips it off, waves his arms around three times and takes the block.
And Olympians aren’t the only athletes who have their superstitious traditions. Golfer Tiger Woods dons a red shirt during every final round of the golf tournaments he plays in. Hall of Famer Wade Boggs was known as the ”chicken man” because he ate chicken before every game, “took exactly 150 ground balls during infield practice, and wrote the word “Chai” (meaning “life”) in the dirt before each at-bat.” (Read more at Men’s Health.)
For Olympian Phelps, however, his superstitious tradition didn’t bear him a victory in the 400 individual medley, but he still has a solid shot at making Olympic history if he wins two more career medals, of any metal, since the record is 18 held by a Soviet gymnast. He already has more gold medals than any Olympian, surpassing Spitz when he claimed eight in the Beijing Olympics.
Q: How do they fill the Olympic pools?
A: Mark Spitz.