More Than Personal Bests and Competition

Photo Courtesy: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports nathan-adrian-phillips-66-20

By Ashleigh Scott, Swimming World College Intern. 

In the intense world of athletics, it is sometimes challenging to see past personal bests and competition. Swimmers focus on big and exciting goals. Every practice, every early morning, and every away meet contribute to achieving these big goals. However, these goals are not always accomplished, which can lead us to question everything.

We all know this feeling. That stomach-twisting, eye-welling feeling that lingers within us for longer than we would like. Sometimes it seems hard to push it away and find a silver lining. Thus, it is helpful to think of swimming as more than just times and titles. What is swimming teaching us beyond results? How can the life skills we learn through this sport ultimately help us, both in the pool and beyond the pool?



Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Sports are special because they allow us to learn valuable life skills as well as display our athletic skills. From very young ages, athletes learn to dedicate themselves not only to their own betterment but also their team’s. Swimming is a unique sport in that it combines both a team and individual aspect of sport. Swimmers devote time and energy to reaching their own goals, yet they are overjoyed for their team’s accomplishments. So, not only are they dedicated, but they are selfless as well. This quality is useful in the real world as well. Dedicating yourself to your future job, relationships and being overjoyed for the individual and group successes that come is a mentality that originates from athletic experiences.

Organization & Time management.


Photo Courtesy: Hodgson Fitness

Swimmers are masters of managing their time. Practice is scheduled for a certain part of each day, but homework, part-time jobs and social gatherings still exist. Knowing this, we must efficiently complete all our tasks in a timely matter while still getting an appropriate amount of sleep.

This is a very valuable life skill, as it demonstrates a great sense of ability to prioritize and to organize. Although they may not be the most flashy of skills, they are highly developed through sport and are crucial to have. We see the benefits of managing our time and being organized in the workplace where deadlines are constant.



Photo Courtesy: David Wegiel

Swimming teaches us to be a reliable person, both for the team and for ourselves. We are expected to show up to practice to work hard and to encourage one another to be the best we can be. To try our best is implied. Even if the results fall short of what we want, if our best efforts were put forth, then we should feel satisfied.

As athletes, we know if we tried our best. We must be reliable to ourselves and to the team. We can confirm if our efforts were maximized or not, and this always translates to the team. Athletes are responsible for always giving their all, and this mentality is excellent for all of life’s pursuits. It goes beyond sport, as it applies to all spheres of life: work, friendships, relationships, ultimately serving as a great life skill.


Photo Courtesy: McKenna Ehrmantraut

Falling short of swimming goals can lead to swimmers sensing a void within the sport. We ask ourselves if it’s worth it and question the sport overall. Sometimes, we must stop thinking about the times, the titles and the competitions in order to focus more on the core values the sport provides. Swimmers are dedicated, selfless, organized and reliable: four qualities that will help with our performance in the pool and out.

There is no handbook on how to portray these qualities. Instead, being a swimmer allows us to embody these qualities naturally and display them both inside and out of the swimming front. We must take time to reflect on how lucky we are to have a sport that – even if it may not be immediate – prepares us for success throughout our whole life.

-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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3 years ago

Swimming really does prepare us well for life – great article!

3 years ago

Love the points, as the cliche goes… so much more than a game

3 years ago

Love the points, as the cliche goes… so much more than a game