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Eddard Stark from Game of Thrones.

Why Championship Swim Meets are Just Like Game of Thrones

08/13/2014, 5:00am PDT
By Kelvin Cech

Provincials are coming...


I’m dead serious here.

Wait, I mean, really serious.

Anyways, the British Columbia Summer Swimming Championships were held a couple of weekends ago at the North Shore Winter Club, and whether you were a participant or a spectator, the point of this article no doubt rings true.

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you know that this is one of the most famous television shows ever created. If you haven’t seen the show, it’s probably because you’re pretty sure you know what you’re going to see. 

Here are three reasons why elite level swim meets are just like Game of Thrones.

1. The Unfair Circumstances

When Ned Stark is captured and accused of treason in the first season of Game of Thrones, the audience wasn’t certain what was going to happen. In fact, viewers probably felt perfectly comfortable knowing a gigantic network like HBO wouldn’t kill off a character played by the most famous actor in the cast (Sean Bean).

SPOILER ALERT: in subsequent seasons, every time the slightest hint is made at misfortune claiming a beloved character, the audience is left to wonder, twisting in the wind, waiting for something horrible to happen at just the worst possible time. Like a wedding, or something. 

Why is this like swimming?

Because no matter how hard an athlete works during training, no matter how many sacrifices they make in the hopes of standing atop the podium once the meet is done, misfortune is waiting beneath every wave.

  1. There are injuries. Bad ones.
  2. Swimmers can misjudge a dive and ruin 6 months of training. 
  3. Swimmers flub their transitions, signalling the beginning of a cataclysmic tailspin that the athlete will never fully recover from.

And just like Tyrion Lannister, sometimes a swimmer does nothing wrong whatsoever, but they still lose their crown because they’re just not tall enough. 

Like GOT, swimming claims new victims at random times, because in the end, there can be only one king (or queen).

2. The Underdogs

Speaking of Tyrion Lannister, perhaps the most popular character on the show (no, he hasn’t been killed off yet - YET), swimming loves the underdogs.

When Michael Phelps won his first gold medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England, no one was really surprised. When the biggest, strongest characters emerge victorious on Game of Thrones, no one is really surprised.

Swimming is dominated by a certain body type, but when the unthinkable happens, when intelligence or sheer will overcomes natural talent, well sir, that’s a story. 

In swimming and Game of Thrones, hard work, determination and intelligence can overcome anything. Unless you’re chosen champion decides to get cocky and waste his chance to save your life in an all-out battle to the death against the champion of King’s Landing.

Then … you’re on your own. Better practice that butterfly stroke. 

3. The Competition

When it comes to competing at swimming’s highest levels, successful athletes will all tell you the same thing: you're on your own.

Swimming is an individual sport. While you may have a coach, you have no teammates in individual races. Actually, even during relay races with other team members, their belief in you can evaporate into bitterness pretty quickly if you don’t hold your own. 

When you beat a rival, they don’t forget. This is especially true of young swimmers, who face the same opponents over and over again. 

And swimmers always re-pay their debts. 

Swimming leaves you to fend for yourself among a horde of maniacs who want exactly what you want: victory.

Wait, that last part is supposed to be a Game of Thrones point.

Except it sort of works for both. 

In swimming, there are casualties - people dropping off one by one until there’s but one victor.

In Game of Thrones?

You get the idea. 


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