Finding Your Motive to Swim

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Photo Courtesy: Hannah Magurder

By Rachel Ewart, Swimming World College Intern

Approaching senior year of college can be one of the most intimidating feelings for a collegiate athlete, especially when it comes to finishing out a swim career. With one year left at Ouachita Baptist University, and 16 years of swimming under my belt, I know this sport has shaped me more than words can describe.

More Than A Sport

Unlike everything else that has simply come and gone, swimming has remained constant in my life. Through times of happiness or times of sorrow, jumping in the water for a solid workout always seemed to help, regardless of the situation. The pool created an environment of productivity, self-discipline and family that cannot be found anywhere else.

The teammates I’ve met throughout the years have provided a support system that I wouldn’t get with any other type of involvement. College swimming has been an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. Even though being a collegiate athlete means waking up at 5 a.m. for practice, rocking the classic “wet messy bun” look, and eating more food in the cafeteria than the average male college student, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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Photo Courtesy: Hannah Magurder

Why Positivity Matters

Like any dedicated athlete, I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs with swimming. Throughout the years, improvement was a huge factor that drove me to work harder. It was easy to be motivated when I saw my times progress at every meet. But after a solid three-year plateau, the thought of quitting crossed my mind several times. I worked hard at each practice, giving it everything I had, but somehow I wasn’t progressing much.

At times, swimming felt more frustrating than enjoyable, but this past year I’ve adopted a new mindset that has helped tremendously. Many people, myself included, were affected by the death of former Ouachita swimmer and assistant coach Kyle Tilley. Within one night, one car crash, he was gone. I ended up writing a feature story about Kyle and the impact he had at Ouachita. The people I interviewed said tremendous things about him, his character, and his attitude toward swimming.

After writing that story, my perspective of my own swimming career changed. Kyle wasn’t the fastest swimmer in the pool. He didn’t go to the Olympics or achieve national cuts. But he was one of the most optimistic, friendly and energetic swimmers on deck. It was his attitude that influenced others and left his legacy.

Writing about him made me think deeper about what my motives were to swim. In the end, all the medals in the world will not matter, because when we die, we can’t take those with us. Although those achievements should be honored, they shouldn’t be the sole purpose of participating in a sport. What people will remember the most are your passions, your character and your heart.

I’ve realized that success is not what swimming is all about. It’s about staying positive, reaching out to the people who don’t get encouraged enough, and setting a good example with your actions. Those are aspects of swimming that should also be rewarded.

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What’s Your Motive To Swim?

My challenge to anyone reading this, whether a swimmer or not, is to think about the legacy you will leave. If you’ve struggled with having a negative mindset about swimming or being successful, remember that there’s more to life than performing well.

A wise man once told me, “swimming isn’t who you are, it’s what you do.” My father’s saying stuck with me through all of my years of competing. That simple phrase always reminded me that your worth shouldn’t come from a sport, or what you do. As you think about your motives for success, I encourage you to take on a similar mindset, put others first and choose positivity.

13 comments

  1. Ultimate Swim Fin

    Always important to find new inspiration and keep yourself engaged. Find a new way to mix things up and think outside the box to keep things fun!