Find Your Voice: Being Your Own Biggest Advocate

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Find Your Voice: Being Your Own Biggest Advocate

By Sadie Jones, Swimming World Intern

A key component to growing up is finding your voice and how to use it for your own benefit. This applies to every facet of life and is especially important to implement when participating in a sport. As a young athlete competing at a lower level, there is usually someone who will vouch for you at all times, a parent or guardian, an older sibling, or a coach. When you are a child, you don’t even have to question if these people are in your corner because that is all you have ever known. In the sport of swimming, this is often the case because of how time-consuming and how much commitment is needed to participate in the sport. A young swimmer has to have a support system to get them to practice, motivate them, and advocate for them. 

Unfortunately, this is not always the case for older swimmers who compete at higher levels. As athletes grow up, it is expected of them to be motivated, get themselves to practice, and be their own advocate. Having all of these responsibilities along with the others that athletes are tasked with outside of the pool, can feel consuming and hard to bear. The greatest skill a swimmer can learn as they are growing up is how to be their own biggest advocate. Here are some steps to work toward finding your voice as an athlete. 

Find a Mentor

Finding someone to talk to and look up to that is familiar with the sport of swimming and has faced the same obstacles as you is hugely beneficial. This could be a teammate, a sibling, or a professional athlete. There are going to be moments when you feel like you have no idea what you are doing, and looking up to your mentor can help take some of this weight off your shoulders. They have probably had those exact same feelings. It is also helpful to have this mentor aid you through the process of advocating for yourself because this can be daunting. Having someone to rant to and ask questions about what you need to be doing creates growth. This person’s role is not to tell you what you want and directly advocate for you. Rather, they are there to support you and inspire you to take that step on your own. 

Talk to Your Coach 

Swimming is unique because it is not a team sport. Therefore, you have to know what you want to achieve and how you are going to do it. This makes it absolutely vital that you know how to communicate with your coach because you are not just a number on a field. You are individually fighting to achieve your goals with each stroke you take. Learning how to have the tough conversations at a young age is important. Be transparent after the hard races and be proud after the great ones. It is your coach’s job to guide you to greatness. If you feel like you are not being pushed to your full potential or are struggling with something in the pool, vocalize that to your coach. Be your own advocate so that your coach can help you reach your goals. 

Be Honest, Strong, and Determined

Recognizing that you are the only person that has the power to get you to where you want to be is a challenge, but being honest, strong, and determined creates the space for this process to happen. Be honest with yourself about how bad you want it and how you will succeed. This approach helps to foster honest conversations with everyone around you and makes you a better advocate for yourself. Being strong and determined come along with the sport of swimming because it is impossible to participate in the sport without having these two traits. But when you think of it through an advocacy lens, these characteristics grow in importance. Your passion for the sport will increase when you are strong and determined and passion can only make you a better advocate.

Remember that advocating for yourself is your own secret weapon in and out of the pool and it will always assist you in reaching your dreams. 

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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