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View Full Version : Who have actually acquired wide shoulders due to swimming?



ddl
October 23rd, 2008, 12:24 AM
It's often said swimming makes your shoulders wider, perhaps breaststroke and butterfly in particular? Are there any real swimmers here who can confirm this with their personal experience?

If true, what length of time and intensity of swimming did it take to result in such changes? I suspect this can happen only to competitive swimmers.

Allen Stark
October 23rd, 2008, 01:36 AM
Fort says she gets wide shoulders from swimming.I have wide shoulders,but I have been swimming continuously since age group(59 now:cane:) so I have no idea when it happened.

Rykno
October 23rd, 2008, 02:27 AM
I have wide shoulders, also been swimming since I was 6, now 34. I think it was noticeable when I was 11-12. but when I was 16+ it started to get hard to find dress shirts that fit. Now that I'm older and have money I special order them. the standard dress shirt has a 1 1/2 - 2" difference from the chest to the waist, I have closer to 10" difference. so when I buy a shirt to fit my neck and shoulders, it hangs over the rest of my body.

But I think it's more noticeable in women swimmers. When I meet a former swimmer it's still obvious to me that she was a swimmer, because of her shoulders.

swimshark
October 23rd, 2008, 07:24 AM
I have been swimming since I was 5 so I don't know if the shoulders are there because of the swimming or I swim because of my shoulders. But I have a horrible time finding shirts that fit me. I can't wear blouses (man that sounds old-fashioned).

FlyQueen
October 23rd, 2008, 08:26 AM
Since coming to masters 4 years ago after only having swum a couple years of high school I have gotten much bigger shoulders - lats and other muscle groups which I cannot identify. Clothes from 4 years ago certainly don't fit. The bright side is I've gone down about 2 pant sizes ... however like Shark it's a major pain to find tops that fit.

Lump
October 23rd, 2008, 09:36 AM
Finding suits are the worst!

isobel
October 23rd, 2008, 09:48 AM
Mucho! My shoulders sprung out like leaves on spring trees. I did not swim when I was younger. I found out I "bulk up" as my coach put it. I am not BIG or overweight, but lots of my shirts suddenly became sexy inasmuch as I could not buttom them without pullage.

I was on Boston T and this BIG man sat next to me recently and was READING THE PAPER which requires extra room on his part, and I refused to move and scrunch up (I've read that women often scrunch up to let men have more room on public transportation). He said, "You have big shoulders." He was pissed at me for not scrunching up. I said, "Sorry, can't help it; I swim." He shut up. Alas he continued to read his paper and we were quite snug until he got off. Had he been cute . . .

The Fortress
October 23rd, 2008, 09:52 AM
Mucho! My shoulders sprung out like leaves on spring trees.

Yep, massive and huge from swimming. New clothes required.

USMSarah
October 23rd, 2008, 10:07 AM
Count me in. I was never petite to begin with, but my shoulders are definitely big from swimming. It's been a pain to buy dresses and shirts... it will never end. I'm huge.

ddl
October 23rd, 2008, 10:19 AM
Oh my, all of you must be hard core swimmers! What strokes do you swim the most? Do freestyle and backstroke also make shoulders wide?

hofffam
October 23rd, 2008, 10:26 AM
When you say "wide shoulders" what do you really mean?

Do you mean broad shoulders - with a big upper body bone structure? Perhaps a big difference between chest size and waist size?

Or do you mean prominent deltoid muscles - the basic shoulder muscles?

I don't think someone who doesn't have broad shoulders (skeletal structure) by the time they are 18-20 can develop them later. Your bone structure is essentially finished development by that age. Deltoid and other muscle development can occur for a long time so I think an adult who starts wimming at 30 could develop big shoulder muscles. But their chest or shoulder width won't change.

swim4me
October 23rd, 2008, 06:14 PM
I always thought it was my build not my swimming that gave me wide shoulders. However, my 19 y/o daughter, formally a swimmer now a collegiate water polo player, does not have my bone structure (hers are small, mine are medium), but she wears a size 0 pant (yes - I am jealous) and a size 6 jacket. :shakeshead:

(I cannot even remember being a size 6 - I was 6' tall at 12 (she has stopped at 5'7")) :fish2:

anita
October 23rd, 2008, 07:00 PM
I have the large skeletal shoulder structure from youth swimming but lost the muscle mass, even when I was lifting. I started swimming again in April and about a month ago noticed that none of my shirts fit!

Now I'm down to t-shirts or shirts that fit my shoulders and chest but make me look pregnant.

jim thornton
October 23rd, 2008, 07:23 PM
People often ask me, "Jim, where DO your massively manly shoulders and other aspects of that impressive physique come from?"

No, wait.

People never ask me that.

swimcat
October 23rd, 2008, 07:43 PM
i had bigger lats when i lifted before i got hurt. now, my shoulders are still wide but the guns are getting smaller. clothes are a pain. size 8 to 10 shirt. 4-6 pants.

letsrace
October 23rd, 2008, 08:12 PM
We need twins. One who grew up swimming and one who did not to solve this mystery.

ddl
October 23rd, 2008, 08:21 PM
When you say "wide shoulders" what do you really mean?

I read it from many sources, so it's up to whoever made that conclusion to explain ;) I think they mean muscles, which over developed from swimming. But I doubt it could be that drastic. Could it be the other parts of the body become more slim (streamlined ;)) so shoulders look wider?

In fact, what I noticed during watching the Olympics was that the necks of many swimmers were very thick, some having the same width as their heads. :rolleyes:

jim thornton
October 23rd, 2008, 08:27 PM
It's almost impossible to have a neck as wide as your head without either one of two other conditions:

1) microcephaly
2) steroids

Michael Heather
October 23rd, 2008, 10:56 PM
It's almost impossible to have a neck as wide as your head without either one of two other conditions:

1) microcephaly
2) steroids

I have not recently been accused of either of those conditions, but often was asked if I played football in college. I have a 19 inch neck to go with the big shoulders. Even XXL shirts have to be worn with the necks open.

I believe that the activity of swimming accelerates the definition and growth of the muscle groups around the shoulders to give them the appearance of being broadened. If we were to stop swimming or any related exercise, the shoulders would shrink down to a "normal" size and we would all look like pears.

isobel
October 23rd, 2008, 11:16 PM
We need twins. One who grew up swimming and one who did not to solve this mystery.

I did not grow up swimming.* I danced ballet and modern. I was lithe. I do not have a neck the size of my head merci a dieu. I'm sorry, but I would quit swimming if that happened to me.

I do regular lifting for shoulder stability and I never used my arms in this way for dancing (i.e., constant resistance and constant motion through incredibly thick substance called water; sometimes called cement depending on energy level). I still believed I was lithe until I saw a picture of me holding a baby. Nope. Not lithe. Enormous arms and shoulders. My arms are truly as wide as my thighs from side view. Initially I was somewhat heartbroken. Then I accepted it and decided it meant I was strong. ALL of my shirts pull in that sexy swimmer's way now. I flaunt this. Well, not really. I can pretend it's a good look. Really I need some new shirts.

*Oh, wait. You need twins. I don't have one. Still, once I was lithe. Now I am not.

Rykno
October 24th, 2008, 07:00 AM
We need twins. One who grew up swimming and one who did not to solve this mystery.

my brother and I are 23 months apart. his primary sports activity were soccer and baseball with very little swimming, then in HS it was cross country and crew. so he was built more like bruce lee.

he's now taken to mixed martial arts and juggling. (funny combo I know). but even when he was his biggest through weight lifting he never really got the same upper body as me.

about 4-5 weeks ago he started swimming and when i asked him why, he said he was hoping to improve his posture and upper body shape. I can only assume he means he was bigger shoulders.

Rykno
October 24th, 2008, 07:03 AM
SIDE TRACKED

this topic has gotten me to think about "cobra" like lats.

we have 3-4 triathlon guys swimming with us, and to the non-swimmer the tri guys probably blend in well on deck with us swimmers. but last night at practiced I started laughing to myself, because of this thread, I started to notice the "nonswimmer" didn't have the same size/shape lats that us swimmers have.

onefish
October 24th, 2008, 12:59 PM
Back in the old days of 20k training, there was not a suit in the store that would fit - only blazers and separates. Even those required surgery.

Now, 17 1/2" x 35 shirts, always baggy around the waist unless I can luck into the "athletic cut" dress shirts.

44 long suits, but the pants are usually too big in the waist - so I'm working on that. Still. :drink:

I find the muscle mass gloms onto the delts, traps and collarbone-shoulder area most regularly with swimming and related weight training.

dV

imspoiled
October 24th, 2008, 02:00 PM
I was born with big shoulders, so I never noticed any increase there from swimming; however, I do notice that my upper arms are larger when I swim. Like other fegirls out there, no blouses or blazers in my wardrobe.

Mary1912
October 30th, 2008, 04:57 PM
Yes, most definitely. I had pretty big shoulders and lats when I was young and swimming. You can see it in my pics. I should mention that I do tend to bulk up more than the average woman in the muscle department (unfortunately in the fat department as well!).

I think that some may develop larger shoulders than others depending on their genetic makeup.

Shamboola
October 31st, 2008, 05:20 PM
The muscle on the shoulders does get a bit thicker but my experience is the lats really get wide. Even at 49 , I have gained all of my swim lats back and my shirts are getting tight. So, yea, swimming cranks up the upper body.

Rob

breastroker
November 12th, 2008, 10:04 PM
Just looking at genetics, my father and step brothers all have much narrower shoulders that I do. I was very skinney before starting swimming as a freshman in high school. Had great shoulders by the time I was a senior, age group swimming and water polo help develop shoulders.

In my day we didn't do weights, had the exergenie and rubber bands.

But when you talk necks, us old breaststrokers all had BIG necks, from holding our 10 pound heads above the waters surface for complying to the breaststroke rule. When I weighed 126 pounds I had a 16 inch neck. Now I am up to 17.5 inch neck, and a LOT more weight.

mjgold
November 12th, 2008, 10:47 PM
I have naturally large lats, and they have started growing even more since I started swimming just a short time ago. I also have a 29-in waist, so they look even bigger. My girlfriend tells me my back is getting bigger, but I also lift so I'm not sure if it is just the weights or a combination of both.

ddl
July 13th, 2009, 02:38 PM
Here is a video that shows the thick necks:

YouTube - Aaron Peirsol 200m Backstroke

Watch at about 0:15 :)

CreamPuff
July 13th, 2009, 05:29 PM
Here is a video that shows the thick necks:

YouTube - Aaron Peirsol 200m Backstroke (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lA8FlUBmEb8)

Watch at about 0:15 :)

Watched it and sorry but I have no idea what you are talking about. These guys look 100x better than your average young/ middle aged man.

jgale
July 13th, 2009, 05:55 PM
I am an ex-marathoner (almost 28 years of distance running) who took up swimming five years ago. I am more oriented towards distance events than sprinting. I consistently swim five to six days per week and do all four strokes with my best strokes being freestyle and fly. My backstroke is getting decent and my breast stroke is horrible. My body has changed since taking up swimming. I have put on upper body mass that I never had as a distance runner. I can't say my shoulders are "bigger" but I have packed on some muscle in the upper body.

gigi
July 13th, 2009, 06:00 PM
I've pondered this one myself and I'm not really sure what to make of it. In some ways I think of it as a chicken/egg problem. Are lots of swimmers predisposed to be big shouldered to begin with? Is seeing a team full of swimmers with wide shoulders & tiny waists similar to looking at a team of basketball players and marvelling at how playing hoops made them tall? I don't think swimming will change the geometry of your frame but will tend to make areas more or less muscular or tapered. But won't any sport that builds muscle make certain areas a bit bigger?

That said, when I got married right in the middle of college I had to buy a size 12 wedding gown (and this is a 1980 12 not a 2009 12 - those who know fashion sizing know there is a difference - a big one) to fit my shoulders and have the lower half tapered to fit my barely size 8 lower half. Before that day I had never worn a dress with sleeves beacuse I could never find one that fit. Did swimming do that? I don't know, but I'm pretty sure that not swimming as much as I did then has caused my bottom half to now match my top half!

I think too that skinny waist + developed lats + well-developed shoulders = an illusion that makes the shoulders seem much bigger proportionally than they really are. I think it's the lats that give that big V look. I'm just remembering some tidbits from a life-drawing class that focused on body types that vary from "classic" proportions.

swimmj
July 13th, 2009, 06:57 PM
I have naturally wide shoulders - and narrower hips, simply due to bone structure. I do notice when I swim, I carry more muscle in my upper body - lats, arms, and lots of smaller back muscles. The effect of having more muscle on my upper body makes me look even wider in the shoulders. I swam in college and needed a size 6 skirt and a size 14 jacket for an interview suit in the early 80's. Due to size inflation, I fit more easily into tops now, but sometimes can't find skirts, pants or shorts that are small enough. And I have tops that fit in the shoulders and are enormous around the waist. So, jackets are hard unless they are custom made.

--mj

ddl
July 13th, 2009, 10:09 PM
Watched it and sorry but I have no idea what you are talking about. These guys look 100x better than your average young/ middle aged man.

I'm not saying they don't look good, but just wondering whether swimming has to do with the thick neck (doesn't his neck look almost wider than his head?). I remember seeing some other swimmers on TV during the Olympics that also had this peculiar feature.

Couroboros
July 13th, 2009, 11:45 PM
I have naturally wide, broad shoulders... so wide as a matter of fact that a couple times people asked if I was a swimmer before I began swimming six months ago (despite being way overweight too).

So I guess they're just going to get even wider.

As for the thick necks... I read one person somewhere say it's from all those fast-twitch muscles built in during all those years of turning the head real quick to the side for a breath. I don't know how true that is.

Bluewater34
July 14th, 2009, 01:03 AM
I can tell you this: I began my 2nd swim career at 37 after letting myself go a bit for 15 years. After a year and 8 months (building up to pretty hard-core) the muscles that developed most dramatically are in this order:

Triceps
Shoulders
Lats
Core/(the V-thing my wife likes) waist shrunk too
And chest - though differently than you might think...it shrunk - lost man-boobs and it got firm

Legs dropped weight, but nothing too drastic.

I do no training other than swimming. So this is 100% swim related, along with good dietary habits.

Like someone said, my frame is no bigger, but the shoulder muscles at the tops of my arms are well defined as they taper down to my arm. Kind of roundish muscles. I do feel broader than I did a couple of years ago. At least in the right places.

Hope that helps.

Blue

Lui
July 14th, 2009, 03:30 AM
I can't really say that I have tremendous shoulders. I'm not as tall as many male swimmers. I'm 5'9 1/2'' and a quite lean built. I only started swimming in my early Twenties.
I have wider shoulders than I had without swimming but compared to some swimmers I look like a squirt:bitching:
Am I doing something wrong or do those swimmers that look totally like swimmers just swim a lot more(I train about 3000-4000 yards 4-5 times a week).
I used to train every day in the lane next to National swimmers. I hated standing next to them in the shower. I felt like cheetah next to Tarzan:D

qbrain
July 14th, 2009, 08:44 AM
Someone of the opposite sex who usually doesn't bother to acknowledge my existence told me I was broad last week.

Based on this scientific research, it takes 13 months to become broad.

DPC
July 14th, 2009, 08:58 AM
This one is for Mr. Thornton,
Jim, where DO your massively manly shoulders and other aspects of that impressive physique come from?

I figured someone needed to ask.

Amber23
July 14th, 2009, 10:38 AM
In high school, I ran cross country and I swam. There was definitely a noticable difference in my shoulders after swimming, they would shrink back to normal size when I started running again after swimming was over. My friends always made fun of me, but secretly I know they were jealous. :)

DolphinGirl
July 14th, 2009, 11:05 AM
My shoulders/lats have definitely gotten wider, more muscular since I started swimming again as an adult. My husband says I scare him when I stretch and he sees all the muscles :D

jim thornton
July 21st, 2009, 06:09 PM
This one is for Mr. Thornton,
Jim, where DO your massively manly shoulders and other aspects of that impressive physique come from?

I figured someone needed to ask.


Excellent question, David. Thank you for being the first to ever ask it!

Though an atheist by nature, I think this is one of the few questions where the best answer is probably "God."

Followed very closely by "the world of my imagination."

But, really, aren't these the same answer?

On that note, I need to get something for dinner. But first, I must figure out how to evacuate my office door without getting my shoulders and massive manhood caught in the opening, necessitating yet another call to paramedics wielding the jaws of life.

Well, maybe not the jaws of life. But the jaws of ongoing magnificence.

Hmm...if I go through the door sideways, my shoulders will just squeeze through. But that leaves the problem of my manhood...

It is not at all easy being the kind of guy that men want to be like and CreamPuffs want to be with.

Thanks again, David, for an excellent, thought- and reverie-provoking question!

sydned
July 23rd, 2009, 11:02 AM
My body has changed dramatically since I started swimming seriously nearly 10 years ago. I often wish my coaches had done before and after photos. I had been a runner and cyclist before, and never saw the kind of changes I've seen with swimming.

Of course, other parts of my body have shrunken, which makes it nearly impossible to find women's shirts that fit correctly. My husband and I joke that I now have bigger pecs than he does.

nhc
July 23rd, 2009, 03:22 PM
Why don't swimmers develop the slippery shape of seals and sea lions, with tapered ends and big bellies? :rolleyes:

beluga
July 23rd, 2009, 07:21 PM
Why don't swimmers develop the slippery shape of seals and sea lions, with tapered ends and big bellies? :rolleyes:

The big belly part was easy ... the rest :dunno:

RadSwim
July 23rd, 2009, 09:50 PM
I have been re-learning freestyle swimming over the past 4.5 years, beginning at age 44, after a 32 year hiatus. In the past 2 years, once I got beyond the basics, I have added over 3 inches to my chest and almost 5 inches to my over shoulder measurement -- and 3 inches to my waist, at least 1 of which is thicker back muscles, I swear.
RadSwim

gobears
July 23rd, 2009, 10:15 PM
Excellent question, David. Thank you for being the first to ever ask it!

Though an atheist by nature, I think this is one of the few questions where the best answer is probably "God."

Followed very closely by "the world of my imagination."

But, really, aren't these the same answer?

On that note, I need to get something for dinner. But first, I must figure out how to evacuate my office door without getting my shoulders and massive manhood caught in the opening, necessitating yet another call to paramedics wielding the jaws of life.

Well, maybe not the jaws of life. But the jaws of ongoing magnificence.

Hmm...if I go through the door sideways, my shoulders will just squeeze through. But that leaves the problem of my manhood...

It is not at all easy being the kind of guy that men want to be like and CreamPuffs want to be with.


Thanks again, David, for an excellent, thought- and reverie-provoking question!

LOL :applaud:

Karpjf
January 30th, 2014, 09:52 AM
I swim 1-2 times/week (90 minutes/workout) and lift weights about 1x/week. None of my shirts or sweaters fit anymore. It's kind of fun, but getting expensive. It makes my waist look smaller!

bvfrompc
January 30th, 2014, 12:59 PM
Finding suits are the worst!

I learned to swim at 27, went from XL tops since I was 16 to XXL in one year of strictly freestyle and have been XXL for the past 21 years. Suits are impossible with a 50 jacket and a 36 waist. I think the 50 jackets come with 48 waists, to have them tailored would basically be rebuilding the pants from scratch. Thank god for Ralph Lauren suit seperates.

habu987
January 30th, 2014, 03:48 PM
When I was a kid, I was just tiny. Through high school, I started developing quite a bit more muscle, but I was still on the scrawny side at 5'9" and 130 pounds. Proportionally speaking, though, my shoulders were pretty wide.

Fast forward to today, I'm about 70 heavier and much, much more muscle bound than I was then. 'Course, I'm carrying about 15 pounds of padding, too, but I'm significantly bulkier than back then. After 2.5 years of swimming (took about 7 years off after swimming from 5-18), my shoulders are again proportionally wide. My lats, triceps, and back muscles see the biggest gains from swimming.

Buying suits is a pain in the rear! I usually have to shop in the big and tall section, then get approximately 12 feet of fabric around the middle taken in.

orca1946
February 1st, 2014, 12:35 PM
Wide muscles ??? Bones do not get wider!!

__steve__
February 1st, 2014, 02:41 PM
The only thing I've acquired from swimming was fitness, a means for competition, and floppy feet.

swoomer
February 1st, 2014, 11:05 PM
Wide muscles ??? Bones do not get wider!!
Completely agree! I was born with wide (and painful) shoulders, according to my mother. When I took a 40 year break from swimming I lost my bulk and had the shape of a pear. Since re-entering the aquatic world, I've resumed my hulky appearance. Shoulders are a genetic but muscles on top of those shoulders make us look big.