Though I am not a very good singer while on dry land, I rely on music to help me get through many tough workouts, both in the pool and the ocean.To celebrate that I am nine days out from my Catalina Crossing, I have compiled a list of the top nine songs that I like to hum when I need a boost (in no particular order). Some of these may seem unexpected, but I am a secret lover of musical theatre and often use Broadway’s upbeat tunes to set my pace. I have written previously about music in Playlist of a 5k swim and Music That Moves Us: The Importance of Beats in Swimming.
1. “My Shot” from Hamilton, an American Musical (or really most of the songs from this show)
This song has a solid beat behind it as well as a positive never give up message. For those who have not seen the show, this song comes at a point where the title character must decide to act and as a result secures his importance in the American Revolution. The refrain “I am not giving away my shot” nicely parallels the determination needed to successfully complete a marathon swim.
2. “Maps” from FunHome
This song comes from my current favorite musical and helps the protagonist grapple with her father’s life and death within the same small area of rural Pennsylvania. A line that particularly resonates with me says “I can draw a circle/You lived your life inside.” This is almost opposite to one of the purposes of marathon swimming, which is to explore the unknown. This song is simply beautiful and easy to sing along to.
3. “Magic to Do” from Pippin
I am not sure why this song always seems to pop in my head while i am swimming but it is very upbeat and has a positive message. The chorus is about having more to do in life which is similar to my coach Kim’s saying that “there is always more toothpaste left in the tube.” In other words, a tired marathon swimmer can find the extra energy and determination to complete a swim.
4. “Billionaire” by Travie McCoy
This song seems to pop into my head if I cannot think of anything else to swim to. I like poetic quality of this song and I think the line “Oh every time I close my eyes/I see my name in shining lights” can be applied to the way I visualize my swim when I am in bed at night. Remember the Name
5. “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles
This song is especially helpful when the weather is less than optimal. Even when the sky is grey and overcast, I can make myself feel a little bit warmer by singing about the sun!
6. Glee’s “Start Me Up/Livin’ On a Prayer“
I don’t let myself sing this song until I am at least halfway through any given swim. While I was never a huge Glee fan, I really like this mashup because it combines songs with two similar messages into one. Both songs talk about pushing through boundaries to achieve a goal.
7. “Remember the Name” by Fort Minor
I don’t actually know the words to this song beyond the chorus but I think it really captures the essence of a marathon swimmer. The chorus goes “This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill/Fifteen percent concentrated power of will/Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain.” If this song were really written about marathon swimmers there would almost certainly be something about the percentage of crazy we all harbor.
8. “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People
While I don’t use this song for it’s message, I do like the tempo it provides to my swimming.
9. “Put on a Happy Face” from Bye Bye Birdie
So this song may seem like an odd choice, considering that I detest the musical Bye Bye Birdie, but the message to smile through hardship can be helpful during difficult training swims.
Check out my previous countdown posts: