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Performing in Lycra

Swimmers have had to compete and train in revealing and body focused attire for the history of the sport. This environment of body and physique focus can be confronting and challenging. Performing in Lycra is a program being developed by Swimming Australia as an amalgamation of new and historical work. It aims to ensure our swimming community is equipped to support the growth and development of a swimmer’s mind and body that is capable of performing – in all aspects of life. The program is underpinned by five core pillars: Performance, Training, Measurement, Language and Values, and how they relate to body image, physique, health, and wellbeing, in the context of performance.

There are many factors that contribute to a growing and developing swimmer, and various influencing environments in which to develop – at home, at school, and at the pool. Factors that influence a swimmer’s progress during their development are complex and broad; education is the foundation to support the developing swimmer, with minimal emphasis on the finer details of measuring and monitoring performance.

As a swimmer progresses towards elite performance, the contributing factors vary, and health is at risk of being overlooked. A performing swimmer exists on a spectrum; both under- and over-emphasis on physique (or any other aspects of performance) can lead to poor health and performance outcomes. To achieve sustained success in sport, there is a well-established requirement for ongoing development across a range of uncomfortable topics. Developing faster, stronger and better swimmers to reach world class status requires purposeful performance behaviours that are practiced often – from training, to mindset and nutrition. When striving to be the best swimmer possible, we must acknowledge that discussions about performance, physique, nutrition and lifestyle are, at times, necessary to developing a healthy, performing individual.

The Performing in Lycra initiative will provide our swimming community with educational resources, guidance and recommendations to establish appropriate language, environments and performance focuses. Through a ‘do no harm’ philosophy, this program has been designed to maintain swimmers’ long-term health and wellbeing.

Stay tuned to this space as we build out and connect resources and materials over the coming months.