There's one inescapable fact in swimming, above and beyond all the training, the lessons, the hard work, the psychology. Your horoscope. This particular branch of science has had a bad rap in recent years, but the evidence is now pretty clear that what star sign you are directly affects your swimming abilities – as some of the stars of the swimming world, including Michael Phelps and Rebecca Adlington, clearly show. Here's a roundup of the latest thinking.
Aries: 21 March – 19 April
People born under aries are go-getters; they like to plunge right in. You'll be the one thrashing up the pool with great vigour, determined to reach the end, but with zero style or consideration for others. I hate to be the one to tell you, aries, but you are very annoying in a communal pool.
Taurus: 20 April – 20 May
Ever seen a bull swim? No of course not. They probably could swim, if caught in a flooded field, but it won't be graceful. They like things very ordered – pools with strict lane discipline are their preferred setting. But they're solid and a bit lazy. You won't find many taureans in a pool. Who wants to swim with a bull anyway?
Gemini: 21 May – 20 June
Geminis can talk the talk, but when it comes to actually doing it, it'll be a creative interpretation of what's required. Interesting stroke in the pool? That's a gemini. Also, they have no staying power. They might be into swimming one day, and zumba the next. Amazing excuses though.
Cancer: 21 June – 22 July
Michael Phelps is cancer (a water sign). Science tells us that water disperses in water, and yes, the cancerian problem is they can start to actually disperse or dissolve in water, so they have to go fast. Michael Phelps proves that. Also, they swim sideways so will crash into you if they're doing backstroke. Nightmare.
Leo: 23 July – 22 Aug
Lions are great, aren't they? Really powerful creatures, fabulous thick hair. They are the show swimmers – if there's someone at your pool in a very flashy costume parading up and down followed by a troupe of admirers, that'll be a leo. Flashy in the water, too, which is great to watch but don't expect one to save you if you're drowning.
Virgo: 23 Aug – 22 September
Virgos are the ones with the superbly packed swimming bags, a pocket for everything. Run out of anti-fog spray? Ask a virgo. Got a problem with your stroke? Ask a virgo. They will have watched and analysed every swimming video going, and are particular and precise swimmers. Hmmm. Doesn't sound like a fun party, does it?
Libra: 23 Sept – 22 Oct
Ian Thorpe is a Libra, and as such, better in a relay than on his own. Don't expect to see many librans in your average public pool – they're a bit snobby, preferring exclusive places. In the water? Very good at medley swimming, they like to mix it up. And balanced – it's the scales thing. They're practically born bilateral breathing.
Scorpio: 23 Oct – 21 Nov
Another water sign, so same advice applies. If you run the risk of dissolving, you really need to have strong skin. Look after your skin, scorpio swimmers. This is a sign of extremes and intensity. So scorpios make great psychopaths or, alternatively, cold-water swimmers.
Sagittarius: 22 Nov – 21 Dec
Freedom. FREEDOM! That's a key word for sagittarians. So if there's a nudist swim anywhere, that's were they'll be. Wild swimming is definitely for the sagis. They hate to be tied to social constructs such as lane ropes, or "slow, medium, fast". Likeable, optimistic but not that bright, Sagittarians hate health-and-safety rules. You go, Sagis. Fly free.
Capricorn: 22 Dec – 19 Jan
That person standing at the end of the lane yelling at you to go faster? That's a capricorn. They make excellent coaches. In the water, they are in control, disciplined, self-reliant, will push themselves to be literally their best selves*. Wow. When you realise it's all about self-loathing, you might feel a little more sympathetic to them. Try, at least.
Aquarius: 20 Jan – 18 Feb
The waterbearer! This is the dawning! No surprise that both Mark Spitz and Rebecca Adlington are aquarians – no sign is better suited to swimming. (Except maybe the fish.) Aquarians are rebellious, unconventional, they like to go their own way (you can go your own wa-eh-ay). How does this translate in swimming terms? They are bloody good at it.
Pisces: 19 Feb – 20 March
The fish. Born to it. Amazing swimmers. Intuitive, instinctive, water is their natural home. If you need help in the water, Pisces are your go-to sign – but so willing are they to help others, they may drown themselves in the process. Oh well. But be warned, other swimmers: pisceans don't like rejection. If you don't let them on the swim team … well, you've been warned. .
Hope you've recognised your swimming self here. And no prizes for guessing the star sign of this correspondent. (Gemini.)
*Hat tip to Chris Traeger of Parks and Recreation. If you literally don't know who I mean, look it up.