Urban dictionary: Marathon swimming edition

Two of my favorite new phrases (well, they’re new to me, anyway):

“Getting chicked” and “grandpa pace.”

“Getting chicked” is when a man is beaten by a woman in an athletic event. Commonly uttered by exhausted men after ultra-distance races. Some might find it misogynistic, but I see it as a celebration of female superiority in endurance sports.


  • Jim got chicked by Shelley Taylor-Smith in the 1985 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. And again in 1987. And again in 1988. And again in 1989. And again in 1998.
  • Evan got quintuple-chicked in the Nike Swim Miami. But at least they were almost all teenagers.

“Grandpa pace,” popularized by Gordon Gridley (e.g., in this post), describes a relatively slow or conservative rate of swimming, suitable for channel crossings.


  • Kevin may not be the fastest swimmer, but damn, he can hold that grandpa pace forever.
  • The main set is four times through: 5×100 best average on 1:30, followed by a 300 grandpa pace on 5:00.

Any other good ones out there??

7 thoughts on “Urban dictionary: Marathon swimming edition”

  1. I think Chrissie Wellington sums up “getting chicked” as well as anyone. I’d say she is THE greatest endurance athlete competing today, maybe ever. Just check her overall placing in Kona 2007-9, or her run split this past weekend at Ironman South Africa. It’s ridiculous.
    Also, what is it called when a 9 month pregnant chick laps you in Masters?

      1. Universal sports shows some of the replays of the condensed NBC coverage in Kona. 2008 was surreal if you can catch that one. She came out of the water well behind the leaders. Caught them and past them REAL quick. She flatted and spent easily 10 minutes fixing it and slipped behind a bunch of competitors. When she finally got on the bike she was passing the leaders like they weren’t moving. And she had her patented smile the entire time. When Craig Alexander was on his was to winning he kept asking for Chrissies splits, not how big his lead was. Guess even the best of the best worry about getting chicked.

  2. Having grown up with an Italian mom and two sisters, I’ve never cared much if I “got chicked” or not. But it really sunk home when I did my first Olympic-distance tri (although not called that yet in 1985). I was really hurting in the 10K. My thighs were cramping up; I’d stop every few meters to squat, which felt good, but then couldn’t get back up w/o getting on my hands and knees and slowly rising.
    I finally felt a little better after mile 3 and hung to a 10:00/mile pace. That’s when I met Ruth. She was running effortlessly and I joined her. After about a mile, and after her comment “Isn’t this so nice, Michael? Are you going to do this race next year?”, I told her I had to stop, apologized to her and told her I’d see her at the finish. My thighs were killing me.
    So there she was, standing with my dad and sister at the finish line, cheering me in. I did that 10K in 1:10, my worst 10K ever (but, granted, it was preceded by a 1.5K swim and a 40K bike). Ruth had won her age group, 60-64. I had managed 3/6 in the 19 and under.
    So, getting chicked doesn’t matter to me!

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