Music for swimming, music while swimming

We’ve all got them. Songs we mentally summon while swimming. My age is reflected in my taste in music, I’m an 80s indie rock kid. And the future Mrs. Loneswimmer says I have typical Irish taste in music, (by which she means maudlin and depressing). I’m not aurally driven, (I’m more visual), so unlike other marathon swimmers have reported, I can’t play the whole thing in my head, it tends to be snatches and choruses.

This is not about choosing favourite songs, but about songs which have chosen themselves for swimming.

The National – Terrible Love  (usually known as It Takes An Ocean Not to Break)

Simon & Garfunkel – The Only Living Boy In New York A very … buoyant … song. 2012’s  theme tune for me & Ciarán?

The Waterboys – Fisherman’s Blues. My all time favourite song from my favourite group which also happens to be my favourite swimming song. I play it last thing before I get out of the car in Sandycove, turning it on as I cross the old bridge. This is my perfect motivational song (and everything else). This is the one I pull out when I need help. This was my English Channel training theme tune. And let’s not forget This Is The Sea, an obvious but perfect choice.

The Rolling Stones – You Can’t Always Get What You Want. Like Simon & Garfunkel, I’m actually not a big Stones fan either, but a great song for tough swimming.

Owl City – Fireflies. I think I’ve mentioned that this song was popular in 2010, and I wasn’t interested in it until it appeared during the night portion of my English Channel swim, and it’s a perennial now. In some way it manages to capture the magical aspect of night swimming.

Or what about a classic, Bobby Darin’s Somewhere Beyond The Sea?

Instrumental music with little or no lyrics doesn’t work for me while I’m swimming, I don’t have the ability to mentally stream it.  So even though this is one of my favourite “swimming” tracks, it doesn’t play when I’m actually swimming.

Here’s the playlist. Cue abuse of my lack of musical taste.

Oh, as for an actual music player to use while swimming? They aren’t allowed under Channel rules, so I see no point in training with one.


3 thoughts on “Music for swimming, music while swimming

  1. The National is a great band! Personally, I purposely put music “in my head” for swimming only sparingly. The reason being, I usually can only “use” a song once. After that, it just doesn’t have the same effect.


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