10 Ways to Be the Best Teammate in the New Year

Photo Courtesy: Hannah Dahlin

By Emily Thirion, Swimming World College Intern.

The relationships that you build with your teammates throughout your swimming career are paramount to most everything else you accomplish in the pool. The bonds shared between swimmers are hard to put into words. The blood, sweat, and tears poured into the sport is unique to those who train and compete together.

Through the duration of your time as a swimmer, your teammates will be the ones who cheer the loudest when you are at your best and help to buoy your spirits when you are at your worst. They are the ones with whom you will travel the country and share jokes and hardships; they are the ones who will always have your back come competition time.

You most likely spend more time with you teammates then your own family. Even if you don’t love all of your teammates, there needs to be a healthy respect among all members in order to succeed in the pool and have a mutual kinship outside of it.

With the new year fast approaching, here are 10 ways to be the best possible teammate moving forward:

1). Be accountable.


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

If you offer to work with a younger teammate with some technical drills, show up. If you offer to count for a friend swimming the mile, be there. And if you offer to hang back at the end of practice to run a core workout, do it.

2). Spearhead clean-up.


Photo Courtesy: Andy Ringgold / Aringo Photos

Oftentimes, it falls to younger swimmers or underclass men to clean up equipment. Be the first person to help reel in lane lines or wrap up the flags. It goes a long way in the eyes of your coach, as well as your teammates.

3). Help set the tone.


Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

Be a leader. Create a positive training environment by setting the tone for your peers. No one likes a Wendy-whiner, especially when things are tough. Be the person who turns complaints into encouragement.

4). Exercise awareness.


Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

Be aware of how you affect the younger members of your team. When you were a kid, you too looked up to the older and faster swimmers. You have been where they are now. Be willing to offer advice, or spend time with them at practice or meets. Use the experience you have, and don’t take advantage of the impression that you are making every day.

5). Be the biggest cheerleader.


Photo Courtesy: Sue Borst

Be the first one on your feet to cheer for your teammates. All of them, not only the ones who you train with, or you are close to. Be supportive when your teammates do well, and offer a shoulder to lean on when they do poorly.

6). Goal-setter.


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Be the first person to set the value of team goals. While swimming is a highly individualized sport, it is still team-centric. Stress how important it is for the team to succeed. Everyone needs to strive for a common goal, and achieve together.

7). Own your mistakes and gloss over your teammates’.


Photo Courtesy: Cathleen Pruden

No one is perfect, inside the pool or out of it. Own when you make mistakes. Whether it be a wrong send off, or a stealing a friends equipment. That beings said, don’t harp on your teammates mistakes. Deflecting your teammates slip-ups go a long way.

8). Be Welcoming.

KNOXVILLE, TN - December 5, 2013 - SwimMAC Carolina teammates celebrate after winning the 4x50 Yard Freestyle Relay during the USA Swimming AT&T Winter National Championships at the Allan Jones Aquatic Center in Knoxville, Tennessee

Photo Courtesy: Tia Patron/Tennessee Athletics

Always say hi to the new kid. It can be so hard to start in a new program. Be the first one to welcome a new team member into the fold. Show them what makes your team weird and awesome.

9). Pay attention.


Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

Know what’s going on at practice. Be on top of sets, intervals, and the technical aspects of your stroke. If you commit to a set, your teammates will too, and you have a good chance to lead by example.

10). Focus on the details.


Photo Courtesy: Kate Smarjesse

Remember your teammates’ birthdays. Offer to fill up water bottles. Pass out equipment. Help time test-sets. The little stuff adds up over time, and your teammates will truly appreciate it in the long run.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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