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In The Swim

Posted by Smokey Stover on December 21, 2006

In Reply to: In The Swim posted by Marc on December 21, 2006

: In The Swim

: I've heard this phrase only once or twice, it seems to be a term that means joining a exclusive club, or gaining a special privilege.

: For example:
: "I hear you've got some illegal fireworks for sale, any chance I can you know.... get in the swim?"

: Is this the right meaning?
: Where is the phrase from?

I've never heard "in the swim" or "get in the swim" used in just that way. Here are two ways to use it (from the OED, s.v. swim):

" b. fig. phr. in the swim with: in the same company with, in league with.
1885 Graphic 3 Jan. 11/2 A combination of leading jockeys and others 'in the swim' with them. 1889 R. BRIDGES Growth of Love lxiii, And since I see Myself in swim with such good company.

7. fig. The current of affairs or events, esp. the popular current in business, fashion, or opinion; chiefly in phr. in (out of) the swim.
1869 Macm. Mag. Nov. 70/2 A man is said to be 'in the swim' when any piece of good fortune has happened, or seems likely to happen, to him..The metaphor is piscatorial... 1879 MCCARTHY Own Times xxvi. II. 264 Palmerston is to all appearance what would be vulgarly called 'out of the swim'. 1884 Graphic 29 Nov. 562/3 The second category of companies is usually so managed that the originators do pretty well out of it whether those of the shareholders who are not 'in the swim' gain a profit or lose their Capital.

b. with qualifying words.
1884 H. P. SPOFFORD in Harper's Mag. Nov. 891/1 She is in the swim of the world, turning night into day. 1888 GUNTER Mr. Potter xiv. 167 Who knows nearly everybody in the swim of European society...."

My feeling one who is "in the swim" knows what's going on, in some particular group, either socially oriented or in business, and is up to speed with the others, swimming along with them. If I'm wrong, tell me.