Dartmouth Water Sports Folklore



  • From the Greatest Olympian of All Time to the aspiring high-schooler, athletes around the world use routines to prepare themselves for competition. These habits and rituals help put athletes in the right mental and physical states for competing at a high level. For example, Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, goes through an identical progression before each race he swims, as referenced below: “Phelps performed a set routine in the final minutes before his races. He stood behind his assigned starting block four minutes before the race. When his name was announced he stepped onto, then off of the block. He swung his arms three times, stepped back up on the block and assumed his starting position.”
  • In our project, we began by exploring aquatic sports pre-competition rituals by interviewing Dartmouth student-athletes. We focused on pre-competition rituals (from up to a week prior to last minute) in Dartmouth aquatic sports such as swimming, diving, and water polo. The rituals we explored included food, superstitions, and chants. And on top of these, we found other areas of folklore that work in conjunction with these pre-competition rituals, such as rites of passage (team-building traditions), bequests, proverbs, and legends, to improve team performance and create a unique team culture.




  • It is interesting to note the comparisons and contrast between the three water sport teams. While they do share a lot of the same folklore in terms of subgenre, such as pre-race rituals, food, and chants, each team does have its own unique folklore and identity. The Water Polo CD rite of passage was a very interesting spin on that genre, as none of the collectors in our group had ever heard a tradition like that. Every interviewee had a different spin on their folklore.
  • However, this collection is by no means complete. Our sample size of interviewees, while a diverse mix in terms of age, gender, and race, only included current student-athletes at Dartmouth. Also, it is unlikely that our interviewees would tell us the folklore that most uniquely differentiates their team, such as other rites of passage, sayings, clothing, and traditions. These are deeply guarded secrets that only those within the group are ever allowed to know and participate in.


  • Jayson Chojar
  • Molly Brickman
  • Brandon Lee
  • Johnathan Schneck
  • Robert Purvis

Release Forms:


  • Swimming, Diving, Water Polo, Competition, Folklore