When two-time Olympian Julia Wilkinson told the Chatham Y Pool Sharks they stink, the young swimmers nodded in agreement.
She was answering a question about smelling like chlorine after practicing. The odour can be so powerful, she remembers football players at her college dreading when the swimmers entered the weight room.
“It's our natural perfume, guys,” she said, smiling. “You have to live with it.”
Wilkinson was seventh in the 200-metre individual medley final at the 2008 Olympics. She was ninth in the 100-metre backstroke this year at the London Games.
First and foremost, I think it's awesome that Olympians are giving back to the sport by visiting with younger swimmers. From the article, it seems like Julia's comments were inspiring - work hard, overcome adversity, and set yourself up for success. However, I wish Julia had similarly optimistic views on the young swimmers' hair and skin health.
Chlorine should should not be a child's "natural perfume." And, no, kids do not have to "live with" being coated in chlorine all of the time. Swimmers of all ages can wash away the harsh, lingering chlorine that damages hair and skin, causing them to reek of chemicals all the time.
Hopefully, sometime in the near future, the sport of swimming will not simply "live with" being covered in dangerous chemicals a part of the sport.