When it comes to a male swimmer’s body, the consensus is almost unanimously that it is attractive. However, what is more interesting to talk about is whether a female swimmer’s body is attractive.
A swimmer’s body is typically characterized by a lean and muscular physique with broad shoulders, long arms, short legs, big hands and feet, six-pack abs, a V-shaped back, and above average height. Most of these qualities are considered attractive in a man, but many people think that the same qualities in a female swimmer’s body is unattractive.
Since this is a highly debatable topic, there are people in both camps. Neither side is right or wrong, but in this article, I want to discuss this topic of the physical attributes of a swimmer’s body and why many find them unattractive on a woman.
It is advantageous to be tall as a swimmer, so it should not be a surprise that many swimmers are on the taller side.
Of course, being tall is not a prerequisite to be a swimmer, but many competitive female swimmers are tall as well. How does this affect their attractiveness?
Speaking from a man’s perspective, as well as from the men in my life and from the research I’ve done online, most men feel intimidated by taller women.
The feeling I get is that most men prefer women to be shorter than them even with heels on. Therefore, a height difference of 4-6 inches or more (in favor of the man) is preferable up to a point.
When asked about why men prefer this, the consensus seems to be that if a woman is taller than them, they feel emasculated looking up to a woman.
They also dislike that other men may make fun of them, especially with a lot of internet memes mentioning that any man less than 6-feet tall is a “manlet”.
It is such a shame that height is seen as such an important trait for men that many feel threatened when a woman is around their height or taller.
Another characteristic of swimmers is having broad shoulders. Unfortunately, this is another trait that is overwhelmingly considered “masculine” and seeing it on a woman is unattractive to many people.
Having wide shoulders contributes to one’s width which can give one more of an intimidating presence. As such, men love to have wide shoulders, sometimes going as far as flaring them out to look even bigger.
When a woman has broad shoulders, something typically associated with men, this cognitive dissonance can cause many to feel uneasy.
Unlike the other physical attributes which can be covered up or downplayed, typically women show off their shoulders quite often in their fashion.
When a female swimmer wears a dress, tank top, sports bra, or even just a fitted T-shirt, especially around other women who aren’t athletes, their wider and muscular shoulders will stand out.
With their broad shoulders so prominently visible, it is arguably the body part that is most scrutinized for being unattractive.
Swimmers have large lats (latissimus dorsi muscles) which contributes to their having a V-shaped back (wide upper back that leads down to a narrow waist).
Large and powerful lats help swimmers pull with more force. The triangular-shaped back along with a longer torso helps keep their center of mass closer to their lungs.
This is important because it helps them stay afloat horizontally effortlessly, keeping their shape streamlined in the water.
This all sounds well and good for swimming. However, seeing a woman with large lats tends to put people off. In general, women who have a muscular torso are seen as unattractive with the exception of ab muscles.
Long arms, long and narrow torso, and short legs
Many competitive swimmers have long arms, a long torso, and shorter legs than someone of their height. These are all great physical attributes to help one succeed in swimming.
But, in conjunction with broad shoulders and a V-shaped back, this “top heavy” look once again is a look that seems to work for men and not for women.
Conventional beauty standards for women want the opposite: impossibly long legs, short torsos, and large breasts; something else most female swimmers don’t have.
In sports, large breasts are seen as a detriment. It just gets in the way and can upset your balance, which is why you don’t see female gymnasts with large breasts for example.
For swimming, breasts can create drag underwater and make it harder to maintain a horizontal position in the water.
Also, since swimming burns so many calories, most female swimmers will shed fat all around their bodies, including the chest area which decreases their breast size.
For swimming, this is great. For conventional attractiveness, this is seen as a negative.
Big hands and feet
Having big hands and feet help swimmers pull and kick more water, generating more propulsion than someone with smaller hands, and helping them achieve the best swim times.
For a swimmer with big hands and feet, it’s almost like they are swimming with paddles and flippers on. I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, but: this is great for swimming, terrible for female beauty standards.
Unless we’re talking about breast and butt size, people generally want women to be petite. Having big hands and feet is not seen as a good look by most modern beauty standards.
Lean and muscular physique
In order to help them generate more power in their kicks and strokes, swimmers will also do weight training to build bigger and stronger muscles.
Swimming alone does not provide sufficient resistance to build big muscles. In the same way that you shouldn’t expect to look like a fitness model by running, swimming is more beneficial for training one’s endurance and shedding fat.
Female swimmers are very lean because having excess fat will slow them down in the water. In general, people like lean women. But the fact that they workout as well means that their muscles will be visible due to their leanness which can be off-putting to some.
With regards to attractiveness, most people describe muscular women as very unwomanly to put it politely.
The exception is when women have a nice set of 6-pack abs or large glutes (butt muscles).
Are strong women beautiful?
Despite the direction of this article, I actually happen to be in the camp that a tall, muscular, strong woman is beautiful.
I am starting to get really fed up with what society considers masculine and feminine, and the ridicule that occurs when people start to cross these arbitrary boundaries. It’s ridiculous.
I think more people need to blur these lines and challenge the current thinking that there are “masculine” and “feminine” traits, and that if a woman possesses too many masculine traits like being tall or having muscles, that she is somehow unattractive.
If a woman decides that she wants to be the best swimmer she can be, but in the process of reaching her goal she develops traits that many deem unattractive, then there is something wrong with beauty standards in relation to masculinity and femininity and not the swimmer herself.
A strong woman is a capable woman. It shows dedication to her craft and the discipline to work tirelessly to achieve her goals. It also means she can probably kick my ass. I find that very attractive.
Muscular woman ≠ man
Here’s my take. Women will always look womanly. Muscular women look womanly. Tall women look womanly. They can’t help it. A tall, muscular woman will never look like a tall, muscular man without copious amounts of steroids.
Since the average woman is not on steroids, she never has to worry about producing enough testosterone (the male hormone) to look like a man. It’s biologically impossible. She will therefore never “accidentally build too much muscle” or turn into a man on her own.
Believe me, as a man, I know how hard it is to build muscle. Even most men struggle to be muscular. There’s a reason why the average person doesn’t look like a fitness model. You don’t just accidentally get too big and muscular, especially as a woman.
A woman with broad shoulders, a V-shaped back, strong biceps, or any other feature that makes them top-heavy will never look as top-heavy as a comparatively tall man. I can still easily tell muscular men and women apart, and I suspect most people can too.
(Discarding obvious differences in the chest and face, women have wider hips and a significantly smaller and narrower upper body than men).
As a straight man, I like how women look, and a muscular woman is still a woman, so I like muscular women. I know I’m not alone in thinking this way.
Embrace how you look
Did you know that before Arnold Schwarzenegger became an iconic action movie star, his first claim to fame was being a champion bodybuilder in the 60s and 70s?
Back then, bodybuilding and weightlifting was not as widely accepted as it is now which Arnold paved the way for.
Bodybuilders then were basically seen as freaks, and bodybuilding shows were basically on the level of a circus act (and has gotten worse with time as bodybuilders got larger).
Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the biggest bodybuilders of his era and a multiple time winner of the most coveted title in bodybuilding, the Mr. Olympia.
When asked in an interview how women thought of his appearance, he said something along the lines of, “I want to be the biggest I can possibly be to appeal to the women who are into big muscles. I want to scare off all the other women.”
I like that way of thinking, and it can be applied in the other direction.
If you have a female swimmer’s body: tall, broad-shouldered, V-shaped, with long arms and muscles everywhere, own your look the same way Arnold owned his.
Look attractive to the people who find that look attractive. Stop doubting yourself and caring about what the naysayers think.
Embrace everything about your body that makes you a great swimmer.