Dare to be Different

By Rick Whittlesey

SAN ANTONIO, Tex., May 18. IF you want to do the time, you have to do the time.

The requirements to compete at the elite level are intense, and they are much more difficult than most people think. Everything, positive or negative, builds upon itself. Everything matters. Everything.

There's no faking the last 15 meters of any 100 or the last 50 of any 200. Lots of really hard work has to be done at very high levels, and it has to be done all the time. And It has to be done with great technique, tremendous focus and determination.

Swimming at the highest levels of competition takes extreme measures of dedication and sacrifice – not only from the swimmer but also from the coach and the parents.

Doing "something" obviously isn't the same as doing everything. Staying on top and in balance is a difficult task. Getting back on top is even harder. Not every athlete improves their times every season, but you always want to be able to look back and say you gave it your absolute best effort.

Your competitive edge isn't lost by not swimming fast, it is lost by compromising your own standards of commitment and hard work, which leads to swimming beneath your capabilites.

Athletes must train at levels of concentration and exertion that stretch them to the very limits of their being. That sounds scary to some people, but that is where the real joy of self-discovery begins, and where goals once thought unattainable are often acquired.

Taking everything to the limit leaves no excuses, but it also leaves no doubts.The things you will cherish in your later years are the things for which you paid a great personal price and sacrifice – not the mundane and routine and everyday habits of the masses.

If you want to take it easy, or come to workout when you feel like it, or concentrate some of the time, or work "pretty" hard, or be a teammate only when you are in a good mood, then you are putting yourself at tremendous risk of losing your sharpness–your edge.

Dare to be different. Dare to put yourself on the line. Dare to rise to the edge and stay there as long as possible in every aspect of your life. If you are willing to risk success, if you are willing to put yourself on the line, if you are truly willing to see what you are made of, if you are willing to explore the depths of your capacities and abilities, if you are willing to eliminate all excuses about why you didn't swim fast, then do the time and do it right.

There are no shortcuts.

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