I swim a lot and really enjoy it. It's something I've done all of my life, growing up in Southern California, and it's my main form of exercise. I'm good at it, but I do it primarily for health and enjoyment.
I've noticed from lurking around this board for several years that there seems to be a very self-congratulatory, cliquish tone to many threads and posts. It seems like it's often a small group of people who post relentlessly, as if they are engaged in some sort of private conversation where they're trying to outdo each other.
Maybe I'm the only one who feels that way. Maybe that's part and parcel of the world of "hardcore" competitive swimmers. Or maybe it's because there wouldn't be anything else to talk about, unless there weren't a constant focus on who's the "best" at this or that.
A race is something that happens once in a while, whereas a lifetime of swimming lasts, well, a lifetime. Yes, it's great to break a certain time in a certain race, but it's also great to have the self-discpline to keep at a daily swimming program and work on improving one's technique and endurance. Both are valid, and, to my mind, neither is more worthy of praise than the other.
Jim Thornton, if I recall correctly, noted a while ago that there were a lot of people lurking around the board and not really participating. If that is the case, I would propose that may be due to the general off-putting tone of things on here. (I won't give examples at this point, although I could.)