Playing Both Sides: How Swimmers Can be Friends and Competitors

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Playing Both Sides: How Swimmers Can be Friends and Competitors

Swimmers usually find their closest friends through the sport because of the amount of time they spend with their teammates. It is very common for swimmers to find themselves racing against their friends, whether it is during a practice or in a meet. This competitive relationship is vital to the sport but it is important to keep this type of friendship healthy. 

One way of doing this is keeping open communication. It is important to know how both of you are feeling about an upcoming competition. Work together to find a way to talk before and after the race regardless of the outcome. If they have a better race than you, congratulate them and celebrate their success, and they will do the same for you in return. Let the competitiveness you feel fuel your drive to do better. 

Another way of keeping this type of friendship healthy could be keeping the competition strictly in the pool. This could be difficult, but finding other people to talk about your races with could help. Talking to a coach individually and having the opportunity to break down the race one on one without thinking immediately about how your friend did, can put the focus on how you specifically performed. Comprehend what happened in the pool separately and be there to support each other after. 

It is important through all of this to remember that emotions are supposed to be felt and it is okay to feel disappointed, jealous, or even proud. Let yourself embrace these feelings so you don’t become stuck in them and remember that everyone goes through these emotions differently. 

Being supportive of the friends you compete with is huge. Let them know you are there for them, you want them to succeed, and you enjoy swimming with them. It can make a big difference. At the end of the day, remember that you value each other’s friendship and you care about how they are doing inside and outside of the pool, while also balancing the success you want for yourself. 

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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