Falling In and Out of Love with Swimming

Photo Courtesy: Nicholas McMillan

By Brian Honicky, Swimming World College Intern

I sometimes wonder what it would take for me to want to quit swimming. What would have to happen for me to completely renounce the sport, to hang my cap and goggles up for good? Thankfully, it’s pretty hard to come up with any reasons short of a devastating injury. Yet fairly often I see swimmers who have completely fallen out of love with the sport give it up for good, sometimes at very unexpected points in their careers.

Of course, each person has his or her own reasons for leaving the pool deck that are highly personal and shouldn’t be questioned. There are countless explanations for why someone may not want to continue a sport that is time consuming, physically demanding, and emotionally exhausting.


While talking to friends that may have lost the passion that they once had for swimming, a few things became clear to me. This is a sport that asks its athletes to be incredibly open to change. As one goes through their athletic career there will be new teams, new coaches, and new events that require them to adapt. As a swimmer, you cannot hesitate to change because times of progression and evolution are times when true success begins. An old coach of mine used to tell me that my times would never drop if I wasn’t open to doing things differently. Refusal to break routines is what leads to plateaus– a major reason why people lose confidence and drive in our sport.

I find that major transitions between clubs, or between high school and college, are times when it is most important to keep this in mind. It can be easy to long for past experiences, old teams and old coaches when moving on to new chapters in your life. It can seem like you aren’t meshing as well with new teammates, or like the training style is not what you are used to. All of these are completely valid reasons why swimming could lose its importance in someone’s life.

Dwelling on the Good

David Nolan wins the 100 backstroke.

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

I remember how frequently I would have to remind myself that change was a good thing when I would switch coaches or training groups. Thinking back on all of the years that I’ve put into this sport, I think that the reason I keep coming back for more comes down to the importance of individual moments.

There are several small occasions that prominently stick out in my memory clearer than others. The memories of the small victories, goals accomplished, successful practices, mental hurdles overcome, continue to drive me forward. It helps me to think of these times before I get in the water for a practice that I’m dreading, or when things just aren’t going the way I would like them to. You only need one or two small moments that remind you of why you fell in love with the sport in the first place. If you can channel those feelings into your training day by day, I believe that it can be enough to fuel your love for the sport.

A Teammate’s Duty

I feel like I am one of the lucky ones. For some reason I seem to be able to brush off failure relatively easily, with at least a somewhat level-headed perspective on the big picture of sport. This has taught me how important it is that we encourage each other to remember our moments, the times when nothing besides the smiles on our faces when we looked up at the clock mattered.

When you spend as much time with people as swimmers do with their teammates, you have to take responsibility for helping others get over their mental blocks. You never know when someone may be considering ending their swimming career. We all know how rewarding this sport can be, but we only get through the toughest times when we have our friends and teammates at our backs. Seeing someone you care about succeed can be just as rewarding as succeeding yourself. Swimming may be considered an individual sport, but it’s the support of others that always yields the best results.

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Wendy L Case
7 years ago

Lara Case

Lionel Alexander Bradley

I love swimming. A dolphin can swim alongside 2 hippo’s and still have fun!

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