Wellness Wednesday: The Importance of Personal Advocacy and Finding Balance

Coach Troy and Elizabeth Beisel enjoy talk before the first day preklims.

A Swimmer’s Life: The Importance of Advocacy and Finding Balance

The world of sports is much more than physical exertion and athletic feats. Sports can help mold you into a well-rounded individual. Swimming, as many know, requires great mental and physical exercise, but where does that fit in to your entire being? For any of us that have been playing sports since our youth, the critical nature of time-management and self-advocacy were certainly highlighted in our journeys as athletes.

As time goes on, sports become more serious and your time becomes more precious. No matter how much each generation idolized legends such as Mark Spitz, Dara Torres, Michael Phelps or Katie Ledecky, the truth is that 99% of us will not be swimming professionally. One thing we do have in common with these professionals is that we all had to find balance outside of the pool. Hopefully, we had the guidance of mentors or parents who could point us in the right direction. The importance of academics has always been tightly wound within the world of swimming. Many of the top universities in the United States hoist the trophies at the NCAA Championships, which is not a coincidence. Swimming and academics both require major discipline.

The commitment to any activity at a higher-level also requires advocacy on the part of the individual seeking a greater experience. Many of us have had to awkwardly ask a teacher if they could get the homework for class because we may have to leave early or even miss a day of school for a meet. This seems out-of-place when you’re trying to juggle so many things at a younger age. However, it translates into life after athletics. Swim practices are often held in the wee hours of the morning. Meets typically start on Friday and end on Sunday. Because of this setup, student-athletes in the pool need to find a way to advocate for themselves and create symmetry within their hectic lives. Getting beyond the mental side of waking up for swim practice will prove useful for your professional life. Starting your day early and even continuing to swim before work is popular for a reason.

Advocacy and proactiveness also extend to improving within the sport of swimming. Maybe you’ve had a conversation with a coach about learning a new technique, training for a new race or working on your weakest stroke so that you can cut time in the IM. Finding new ways to train and seeking guidance are part of improving as an athlete and as a human being.

One of the many aspects of athletics that I am forever grateful for is the unwavering dedication and time-management skills that it takes to improve. Even if you only have one race that you are working on, it takes that extra step to get to that next level. As I stated earlier, this will translate well to other aspects of your life. In an academic and professional setting, it’s always beneficial to advocate for yourself and to search for specialized instruction.

No matter where you are in your swimming career, remember that you are doing yourself a favor by getting your workouts in while learning how to sustain a balanced lifestyle.

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