5 Integral Members of a Swimmer’s Support System Outside the Water

Photo Courtesy: Annie Grevers

By Maggie Lasto, Swimming World College Intern.

The life of a swimmer is complicated. You can take the swimmer away from the pool, but you can’t take the pool away from the swimmer; or the chlorine for that matter. Swimming is a sport that not only follows you around, it also impacts the people close to you. Of course, coaches are the number one necessity to swimmer’s when they’re in the water. Where would we be without them? However, a swimmer’s life continues when they leave practice and the pool deck behind. There is a team of other individuals who are essential to a swimmer’s success. Here are 5 of the most important people in a swimmer’s support system.

1.Go-With-the-Flow Roommates

Living with a swimmer is not an easy task. It might come as a shock to you that most college students don’t set their alarms for 5 a.m. every morning (crazy thought, I know). But living with a swimmer means waking up to their alarm, every time they snooze it. It also means stepping in a cold, wet puddle when you enter the shower because they left their practice suit there to dry. Becoming desensitized to the smell of chlorine lingering in the air will just happen naturally, and you’ll have to get used to thinking they brought home a pet fish every time they put their ice pack in the sink and leave it there as a melted baggie full of water. Living with a swimmer can be awesome at times of course, but the deal means having to work around some obstacles. You are what a swimmer dreams of, and you’re not taken for granted. Thank you for putting up with us, roommates, we need you.

2.Loyal Friends

Swimmers rely on their friends to always have their backs. Trying to fit time with friends into an already packed schedule is complicated. No matter how many times the swimmer turns down an invite, a get together, a dinner date (oh wait, never mind, swimmers rarely turn down food), the constant, “I’m busy”, the hitting the sheets early and always feeling tired, a true friend is always there to keep asking. They understand the workings of your life and try to keep you in the loop, but at the same time they don’t cut you off for turning down something fun when they ask. As swimmer’s, one of the things we hate most is that we miss out on our social lives, and the last thing we need is to feel guilty about it. When our friends ask us about how practice went, if we won our meet, or how our times were; even if they don’t understand any of it, it makes our day, helps us feel good and keeps us motivated. May we all have friends like this.

3.Fan Club Parents

Photo Courtesy: Hayley Good

Think about what you’ve heard about the common “soccer mom” stereotype. This is nothing compared to being a swim parent. Parents act as chauffeurs, agents, cheerleaders and everything in between. We would fall apart without them. For all those years before we got our license, they drove us to every swim session, our doubles, our holiday practices and our dry land workouts. When meet time came, they were always there sweating in the hot balcony no matter how far the drive or how long the timeline. They suffered through the chlorine fumes that filled their lungs and burned their eyes, and they wouldn’t miss it for the world. They were always there to say, “I am proud of you”, no matter how awful you thought you swam, or how negative your attitude was, often saving you from a slight meltdown. They were involved, but not too clingy and we could always hear them screaming our name from way up in the balcony. It’s parents like these that swimmers need. Without their services and encouragement, we wouldn’t have made it to where we are today.

4.Generous Gift-Givers

Swimmers have a different type of team outside the pool, a team of gift-givers, who provide everything we need. Santa, for example, never lets us down. Somehow, year after year, he is able to provide the new swimsuit we’ve been asking for, the swimming equipment we’re excited about, or the gift cards we need to go shopping online because everything’s expensive! Then, there’s friends and family who support us by donating to our training trips, our swim-a-thons and our fundraisers whenever we ask. Finally, we can’t forget our parents who bought us the new tech suit after every 6 wears, new goggles when they broke, our team memberships, and our personalized apparel at swim meets because we thought that when our opponent saw the words, “eat my bubbles” on the back of our t-shirts they would be intimidated. Gift-givers support swimmers in all sorts of ways, and provide us with the items we couldn’t swim without.

5.Flexible Bosses

While it might seem silly to think that a swimmer has time for a job, they have their bosses to thank for that. To the bosses who understand the life of a swimmer, you’re appreciated more than you know. Meets come up randomly, we make time cuts we weren’t expecting to, practices take up most of our time, and we really need (and enjoy) our sleep. Whenever we encounter a situation like this, they find us a replacement, shift the schedule to fit us in where needed, and even cover our shifts themselves if need be. They are like unicorns; amazing but hard to find. Most college students rely on their jobs to keep them afloat during the year, and their bosses provide them with the ability to manage their crazy busy lives.

While swimmers need their coaches, their teammates and their trainers, it is the people they rely on when they leave the pool that make a huge difference to them. The way they live their everyday lives translates into their practices, and creates ripple effects down the line. These individuals are like the steps of stairs, building on top of each other and creating a path for them to reach their highest limits. They are the support system swimmer’s need to succeed.

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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