Humans are forever connected with water because of our biological requirement for it, but studies also show that our moods improve just by being near the water. Because of this, it’s no surprise that going swimming and water show up quite often in music.
Whether you’re looking for a song that’s literally about going swimming or uses it as a metaphor to find motivation, there’s a track out there for you. Here are 21 of the most interesting songs about swimming.
1. My Friend Has A Swimming Pool – Mausi
Getting drunk by the water is very popular, both in music and in real life. It doesn’t matter if it’s on the beach, by the river, or at your friend’s house. In this track, Mausi talks about being invited over to a friend’s place for a pool party. It’s a fantastic party song describing how excited the singer is about the party, which is exactly how I’d feel if one of my friends had a pool at their house and invited me over.
2. Santa Monica – Everclear
I can tell you from experience, one of the places you’ll feel farthest away from everything is when you’re far out to sea. Everclear takes getting away from it all a step further by swimming out to sea instead of going out in a boat. Santa Monica is all about getting away from the bad times, whether that be a relationship, job, or life. It’s separating yourself from the negative and waiting for it to pass, all while floating on the wide-open possibilities of an endless sea and future.
3. Chattahoochee – Alan Jackson
Going swimming with friends or having fun by the water can create some of our fondest memories from our formative years. Alan Jackson talks about how much the Chattahoochee river meant to him in this song, describing the time he learned to swim and learned who he was. It’s poetic in a way, discussing being young and having fun while figuring out who you want to be.
4. Swim Until You Can’t See Land – Frightened Rabbit
Scottish indie rock band Frightened Rabbit uses swimming as a metaphor for life in Swim Until You Can’t See Land. The song is about overcoming challenges, and not stopping until your goals are achieved; this might just give you that extra motivation you need on a bad day. It’s a reminder to keep going, no matter where the current pulls you or how hard it gets.
5. Under The Sea – Samuel E. Wright
Samuel E. Wright dropped Under The Sea in 1989 for the animated Disney movie The Little Mermaid. On-screen, you’ll see the song being sung by the crab Sebastian, who’s trying to convince the mermaid Ariel that it’s better underwater than on land. He is so convincing it made me want to go live at the bottom of the ocean.
6. Swimming In Miami – Owl City
Owl City’s original song, Swimming In Miami is fast-paced and upbeat, but the lyrics convey some strong emotions about feeling trapped and wanting to escape their current situation. It discusses how it could be raining outside, and you would never know because the water doesn’t ever get high enough to get into your room.
7. Swim Good – Frank Ocean
Swim Good is one of the most popular Frank Ocean songs behind Ivy and Novacane. In the track, he talks about his travels as a way to distance himself from someone by forgetting about them. No matter where he goes, he can’t get away, so he takes off his suit and tries to swim away from them. The song is slow, emotional, and relatable.
8. Nightswimming – R.E.M.
R.E.M. became one of the most popular American rock bands in the 1990s. Their song Nightswimming is about going for a midnight swim and how exciting it was to be young and go skinny dipping. The track is full of nostalgia to remind us of the good old days. It was originally released in 1993 and became one of the band’s best-known songs.
9. I Go Swimming – Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel released I Go Swimming on his 1983 Plays Live album. It’s a great tune about swimming in all kinds of different bodies of water, but it’s really about letting off steam and letting your problems float away. The end of the song can loop back to the beginning to keep the track going on repeat and features repetitive lyrics throughout.
10. Five Feet High And Rising – Johnny Cash
In Five Feet High And Rising, Johnny Cash and his family are experiencing a flood that will ruin the farm and cause them to have to leave their home. The only options to help them get to the bus station are a homemade boat or to swim to higher ground.
11. Swim – Jack’s Mannequin
Trying to tread water to keep your head above the surface is a powerful metaphor for struggling to stay on track when everything seems to be dragging you down. It’s the same one used by Jack’s Mannequin in Swim, a catchy song about persevering through difficulties. It’s another one that can help get you motivated for the day if you’re having a tough one.
12. Swimming In Your Ocean – Crash Test Dummies
In this song, Crash Test Dummies use swimming in the ocean as a metaphor for falling in love with their partner. It’s a beautiful way to describe how overwhelming and deep their feelings are, even to the point of being willing to lose themselves in an attempt to further their relationship. The track might not make you want to jump in the pool, but it’s a great one to send to your lover.
13. Tennessee River – Alabama
Well, before Alan Jackson wrote Chattahoochee, Alabama recorded the Tennessee River. As widely successful as the band has been, the song went on to become their first number-one on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles charts. It’s all about how they grew up near the Tennessee River and about how they regret leaving the area only to find themselves wishing they were back there and never left.
14. Swimming In The Flood – Passion Pit
If you’re looking for a track about being in over your head, look no further than Swimming In The Flood by Passion Pit. It’s a catchy, upbeat, and relatable song that was released by the band in 2009. It describes how being overwhelmed by emotions can feel benign, swallowed up by a flood, and how to cope with all of those feelings.
15. The Swimming Song – Loudon Wainwright III
Loudon Wainwright III has a history of upbeat, happy songs, and The Swimming Song is no exception. The track is all about his love of being in the water and how great swimming is. It’s a family-friendly song that’s perfect for a day at the pool. Some believe there are hidden metaphors in the track, but I can’t find any sourcing for those references, so just enjoy.
16. Swimming – Breathe Owl Breathe
Summer is the time most people in the world get to enjoy swimming, and Swimming by Breathe Owl Breathe is the perfect song for a summer road trip. It’s all about finding your way home after a long time and references good days down by the river, swimming and jumping into the water at their secret spot featuring a rope swing.
17. Jump In The Pool – Friendly Fires
Friendly Fires’ Jump In The Pool is about taking the plunge into life. It’s important to take a risk when something is important to you, even if the outcome isn’t guaranteed or it feels frightening. Friendly Fires uses jumping in the pool as the metaphor for taking the leap toward your dreams or going after the relationship you truly want.
18. Into The Ocean – Blue October
If you’ve ever gone underwater with a friend and tried to talk to them, you’ll notice you can hear the noise, but it’s distorted in a kind of ethereal way. That same quality is present in Into The Ocean by Blue October. In the song, a boy haunted by a lost love jumps off a boat into the ocean, only to realize the consequences as he watches the boat sail away. It’s a good lesson about thinking things through before actually doing them.
19. Crawled Out Of The Sea – Laura Marling
Laura Marling’s Crawled Out Of The Sea is a haunting love song that we hope is just a metaphor instead of her love literally crawling out of the sea like a horror-movie monster. It’s an extremely short track that features as an interlude on her Alas, I Can Not Swim album. The repeated lyrics are “…you crawled out of the sea, Straight into my arms.”
20. Front Crawl – Frank Turner
One popular metaphor for how much you love someone is that you’d be willing to swim across oceans just to be with them for a day. Frank Turner makes use of the swimming part of that metaphor to fashion a song that can mean different things to different people. The two most popular theories are that the track is either a confession of love or that it describes how hard it can be to live outside of social norms.
21. Hippopotamus – Sparks
Hippopotamus is the title track of Sparks’ album, which was released in 2017. The song is a funny, fictitious story about the singer trying to figure out how a hippopotamus was able to find its way into their pool. There are no metaphors or hidden meanings here, and there’s no resolution, so we’ll never know how the large animal got into the pool.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.