I Swim Because….

Photo Courtesy: Sarah Walter

By Kate Walter, Swimming World Intern. 

Why wake up at 4 a.m. to stumble around a dimly lit rec center and take a reluctant plunge into the cold pool? Why put up with the permanently wet hair and stench of chlorine with hopes of shaving off hundreds of a second?

These questions often rattle around in a swimmer’s brain during painful or boring sets. Sometimes, your relationship with the water resembles that of a self-centered boyfriend or girlfriend who you swore you would never date again. You give and give while receiving very little in return. The question remains: How are there pool fulls of swimmers around the world willing to practice every morning before the sun has even risen? You’re about to find out.


Photo Courtesy: Instagram, @swimcoachjason

Why do you swim?

This question suggests an air of simplicity, yet when truly trying to answer it, you may have trouble formulating the appropriate response. What can possibly be the reason behind spending hours in the pool in exchange for just a few minutes of competition? Swimming World asked a few athletes from different teams to anonymously explain why they stay in the sport. Here’s what they had to say.

I swim because….

  • “It’s such a unique sport that teaches you discipline, yet still gives you a sense of community. With the intense practices, you learn to rely on coaches and teammates to help you get through the mental obstacles. This helps make the very personal sport, a team sport.”
  • “It’s great exercise, and I have tons of fun doing it. I like swimming because if I’m feeling stressed, it takes my mind off of the thing I’m stressed about. I also have lots of great friends which makes it ten times better and more fun.”

Photo Courtesy: Sarah W.

  • “I want to push myself everyday to get better. It’s a challenging sport, but my teammates are always there to support me. The bond created by a swim team is like no other, and I’m so glad I met so many friends through swimming.”
  • “I live for the tight bonds you make with your teammates, the unforgettable memories formed over the years, and of course, the food. Swimming is tough, but that’s also what makes it exciting for me and millions of other people from all over the world. It’s a sport that has helped me connect with so many amazing people from all across the country. I am eternally grateful that I’m a swimmer.”

Photo Courtesy: Kate W.

  • “It’s what I love to do. Ever since I was little, I’ve loved the water. Somehow, my mom signing up for beginner lessons has turned into a life-long love and admiration for the sport. And although it’s gotten harder as the years have gone by and I’ve had my doubts, my friends and family are always by my side pushing me through the mental and physical pain. I have always and will always love the sport. The friends and tight connections I’ve made through it make it even better. And hopefully, with a goal of getting even faster and the motivation from the people in my life, I can take this sport even further.”
  •  “I love competing and having fun. Swim practice is like a home away from home. Swimmers are such a tight-knit group both in and out of the pool. Being part of a community of swimmers who are not only my friends but also my teammates lets me know that someone is always there for me.”

Photo Courtesy: Sarah W.

  • “Every small victory or accomplishment gives me the push I need to keep working for more. After completing a hard practice, I feel like I can conquer the world and overcome any obstacles that might come my way.”
swimmers- smiling

Photo Courtesy: Megan Craven

Each swimmer has a different reason for sticking with the sport. On the days when the only thing that seems consistent in life is the black line on the bottom of the pool, reminding yourself and others of their “why” will make even the worst set bearable.

A common thread throughout these responses is the importance of teammates in the sport of swimming – lane buddies becoming best friends. Without a strong community and support system, practices can turn into a chore and drag on for hours on end.

No matter the motive you have for swimming, it is important to do it for yourself – no one else. Often, parents force their children to compete, causing burnout and breeding resentment. When you swim out of affection for the sport, the early morning commutes and grueling practices become worth it. Hold on to your “why” and don’t let go. Swim because you love it and for no other reason.

Why do you swim?


Photo Courtesy: Sarah Walter

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.