A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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“Swimming isn’t a sport. Swimming is a way to keep from drowning” (10/22)
“Swimming isn’t a sport. Swimming is a way to keep from drowning” (10/22)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (10/22)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (10/22)
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Entry from October 22, 2014
“Swimming isn’t a sport. Swimming is a way to keep from drowning”

"Swimming isn’t a sport. Swimming is a way to keep from drowning” is a joke that has been credited—correctly—to both American comedian George Carlin (1937-2008) and American film director and actor Woody Allen. Allen acted in (but did not write or direct) the film The Front (1996), where his character said:

“Swimming’s not a sport, swimming’s what you do so that you shouldn’t drown.”

George Carlin used the joke in his comedy routine by at least 1986. Carlin wrote in his book, Napalm & Silly Putty (2001):

“Swimming isn’t a sport. Swimming is a way to keep from drowning.”


The Internet Movie Database
The Front (1976)
Quotes

Howard Prince: Swimming’s not a sport, swimming’s what you do so that you shouldn’t drown.
(Screenplay by Walter Bernstein.—ed.)

Google Books
Kathleen, Please Come Home
By Scott O’Dell
Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin
1978
Pg. 23:
Woody Allen said that swimming isn’t a sport. It’s something you do to keep from drowning.

Google News Archive
2 June 1986, The Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT), “George Carlin: funny, but obnoxiously long” by Jerry Spangler, pg. 6C, col. 2:
perhaps the best moment of the show was his explanation of why baseball, basketball and football are the only true sports. Swimming is only a way to keep from drowning, ...

20 September 1988, Aberdeen (SD) American News, “Mermaid wears a smile of gold” by Mike Downey, pg. 1B, col. 1:
SEOUL—In a movie once, Woody Allen asked his date if she ever played any sports in school.

“Swimming,” she said. “I swam.”

Woody made a face.

“Swimming is not a sport,” he said. “Swimming is what you do to keep from drowning.”

Google Books
Woody Allen:
A Biography

By John Baxter
London: HarperCollins
1998
Pg. 240:
Florence says she enjoys swimming, but Prince snorts, ‘Swimming isn’t a sport. It’s what you do to keep from drowning.’

Google Books
Napalm & Silly Putty
By George Carlin
New York, NY: Hyperion
2001
Pg. 106:
Swimming. Swimming isn’t a sport. Swimming is a way to keep from drowning. That’s just common sense.

Google Books
The Mammoth Book of Comic Quotes
By Geoff Tibballs
London: Constable & Robinson Ltd.
2004
Pg. ?:
Swimming isn’t a sport. It’s just a way to keep from drowning.
GEORGE CARLIN

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Wednesday, October 22, 2014 • Permalink


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