6 Ways to Become A Great Teammate

Haley Anderson celebrates 500 free win with teammates.
Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

6 Ways to Become A Great Teammate

By Emma Foster

Anyone who has been on a swim team knows that swimming is a team sport. While we may swim our races individually for the most part (besides the electrifying relays we get to take part in) anyone that has lasted through a tough aerobic practice, or found a little bit more at the end of a grueling 400 IM knows that without their teammates cheering in the background they’d never be quite as successful.

Swimming teammates usually become some of the closest friends you will have. Swim teams are sometimes compared to sororities, or cliques, because of how close the athletes generally are. There is something undeniably special about the sport that draws people together. Knowing that the person next to you is also doing 100x100s makes what you’re doing a little bit easier.

Leaning on your teammates to get through the most treacherous part of the season is a must. Some days, your stroke may be off, you may have gotten no sleep, and practice might just feel overwhelming. On those days, it can be hard to push through just for yourself.

Instead of letting the exhaustion overwhelm you, make that round, that set, that practice about the people swimming next to you. If you can’t have a good practice, make it your goal to make sure your lane-mate has a great one. You might be surprised by how quickly your own day starts to turn around as you get pumped up for them.

Here are six tips to becoming a great teammate:

1. Know Their Goals


Photo Courtesy: Claire Nobles

A great teammate will know their team members’ goals, and make them a personal priority. Most college teams are good about holding team meetings to discuss every member’s goals for the season. Take this opportunity to really get to know your teammates. There is nothing more inspiring than the desire that exudes from someone sharing their goals. Generally, this knowledge is a great privilege. People can be very secretive about their goals, and getting to share in them is something that a great teammate will honor.

Sometimes team members’ goals can have a similar undertone. Several members may be aiming for the same team record, the same spot on the travel team, or the same relay spot. A great teammate will make this a challenge, and not a threat. Competitiveness is a great part of the sport, but it should not be at the cost of supporting your own teammates. Make each other better, rather than tearing each other down and you’ll be shocked at how fast you both end up going.

2. Cheer Them On


Photo Courtesy: Kiera Molloy

There is no better feeling than getting to the wall in the middle of a hard set and hearing tired but supportive voices pushing you on. Using those few seconds on the wall to offer a word of encouragement to your lane-mates will often times bring on a rush of energy. Instead of just waiting to hear that voice, make sure your own is mixed in. When a group gets going and really gets behind one another sets fly by and times drop without you even realizing it. Before you know it, the set will be over, and you might be surprised that you actually had some fun swimming it!

3. Be Supportive

One of the most important things a teammate can do is be supportive. Sometimes, your teammates have bad days, bad weeks, or even bad months. Support your teammates through that, whether there is a family crisis, a difficult scholastic semester, or just a swimming plateau. Oftentimes, the most pressure swimmers can feel is from their teammates. You never want to feel like you are letting the people that are like your family down.

4. Be Willing to Call Them Out


Photo Courtesy: Doug Keller

However, being supportive of your teammates also means being willing to call them out when they could be doing better. A great teammate is never afraid to tell their team members when they can up the ante. If you notice something that your teammate can fix, whether it is in the weight room, in their stroke, or with their attitude, don’t be afraid to constructively point that out. Teammates are there to make each other better, and that starts with letting go of the fear of hurting people’s feelings and holding each other accountable to greatness.

5. Get Outside of Your Lane

While a swim team can be like a sorority, even in sororities there can be cliques. You will probably naturally be closer to some people than others on your team. Swimming in the same lane as the same group of people can create a bit of a bubble. While it’s great to have those close friendships, when the opportunity presents itself, try to branch out a bit. Go kick with that breakstroker that you never really get to talk to, or hit up that slightly intimidating senior for some class advice. The cool thing about being a part of the team is that even if you are not all best friends, there is a mutual respect that offers a chance to develop relationships that might never have occurred otherwise.

6. Do It for Them

The most important thing you can do to be a great teammate is to devote yourself to the sport for your teammates. The middle of the swim season can feel exhausting, and it can be really hard to get internally pumped up when you’re facing many dark months before you can even start to think about taper. If you devote yourself to your teammates, and swim for them, things will start to feel a little bit easier.

Your teammates will be there for you no matter what. So in that final lap, when all you see is stars and you don’t think you can go any harder, reach into your gut, think of them, and go a little bit faster.

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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Michael Anthony Rodriguez

Christel Simms haha

Christel Simms
8 years ago

Hahaha thanks ✌?️

Susan Foster
8 years ago

All the best to you and all of your great teammates, Emma! Great article!

Kelsey Leonard
8 years ago

Kasey Carlson I see you

Nawphawsae Nawphawsae
8 years ago

I like

Upeka Siriniwasa
8 years ago

Sujeewa Gamage Lahiru Rukshan Malith Arunoda Udara Chathuranga Premasiri Karunarathna Isuru Priyanath

Heather Johnson Anderson

Gracie Anderson

1 year ago

Interesting you used a picture of USC swimmers. As a USC member, it’s easier to be a good teammate when you don’t have coaches that verbally abuse you and physically throw metal water bottles at defenseless swimmers. Amazing to watch teammates hide to save their own butts and keep silent. Weak moral teammates and abusive coaches equals a toxic environment.

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