One Team, One Mindset, One Goal

Cincinnati swimming
Photo Courtesy: Mandy DiSalle

By Lillian Nelson, Swimming World College Intern

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” -Phil Jackson

As much of an individual sport swimming can seem to be to the outside eye, it is perhaps one of the most team-reliant sports out there.

Swimmers endure the earliest, most tedious, and most frequent workouts and take pride in the fact that we embrace the challenge of simultaneous responsibility to our teammates, our coaches, and ourselves to be the best we can be with the intent to both push ourselves and the swimmers in the lane next to us to make it to whatever goal has been set.

There is no such thing as “fake it ‘til you make it” in this sport. At the end of the day, the clock does not lie. The points do not lie. The podium does not lie. Those individuals and those teams who did everything they possibly could to reach triumph will shine.

The road to this category of success starts now, and it starts with you. No matter where you fall speed-wise or experience-wise within your team, every single person can make a difference, and holds contributing components in the progress towards his or her team’s ultimate success.

Any journey to triumph is filled with obstacles. But instead of thinking of the everyday challenges of training as a burden to bear, consider what they could lead to.

Not every practice is going to come easy, and there will be struggles. Do not shy away from the tough stuff. The most successful people are often those willing to reach heights that others may not even consider possibilities and even the most triumphant individuals in our sport still thirst for more. If you don’t feel that your self-motivation will be enough to get you through on a particular day, now is the time to lean on your teammates.

In order for this support system to be effective, every single member of your respective team needs to be on the same page. Individual goals, team aspirations, respect level, and daily attitude. You should know your teammates just as well as you know yourself. If each and every team member is on the same wavelength, the opportunities of success become much more fathomable.

Not only do you need to hold your teammates accountable, but you also need to hold yourself accountable. Are you making the right choices both in and out of the pool? Are you pushing yourself? Do you believe in yourself to begin with? Are your teammates comfortable leaning on you? Do you believe in your teammates? All of these things and many, many more are elemental characteristics for the build up of a strong team member.

The concept that a team is only as strong as its weakest link should not scare you; it should inspire and remind you to lift yourself and your teammates up on a daily basis. Push your team, and push yourselves.

Most importantly: trust. Trust your teammates, trust your coaches, trust the training, and trust yourselves. Simply take it one day, one practice, and one stroke at a time. Everyone gets what he or she needs in order to succeed individually, so that they may contribute to the overall success of the team.

One team, one mindset, one goal. Are you willing to take on the challenge?

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7 years ago

Nate Shepard