Swimming: Your Steadfast Sanctuary

FINA World Championships Underwater
Photo Courtesy: R-Sport / MIA Rossiya Segodnya

By Lillian Nelson, Swimming World College Intern

As you progress out of age group swimming and into the world of high school and college swimming, not only does the sport itself intensify, but it also soon becomes apparent that school isn’t easy anymore. Family life can be complicated. Your social life can take some unexpected twists and turns. Your biggest concern in life is no longer why your mom won’t let you have a sleepover with your best friend on a weekday or having to memorize 20 words a week for spelling tests in school.

As we grow up in the sport of swimming, we have the added component of having a responsibility to our coaches, teammates, and ourselves to show up to practice and work hard every day. Especially toward the end of high school and into college, you are given even more responsibilities, and then on top of that, life gets complicated.

Learning how to balance and compartmentalize each part of your life, in addition to swimming, can be crucial to help you go miles past where you would be otherwise.

Though sometimes it can present itself to be the opposite, it is important to remember that swimming should be a fun and empowering release. The pool deck is a place where you can be with your team, work hard—play hard, on occasion—and push the other stresses in your life to the back of your mind for a few hours. Sometimes a good practice and little ‘black line therapy’ is all you need to reset, and put things into perspective.

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Photo Courtesy: Cathleen Pruden

In my experience, life has a way of having either really great timing or really not so great timing.

Maybe you’re fighting with your best friend, maybe you and your significant other just broke up, maybe your family is struggling though a tough time. Whatever you are dealing with off the deck and whenever you are dealing with it, swimming is your sanctuary and your team is your support system. There is no better way to stay moving and stay motivated in a tough time than to be working hard with your team.

Very recently, on top of experiencing some other personal ups and downs, my family and I have suffered the loss of a close relative. Over the past few weeks, I have done everything I can to be helpful and supportive to my surrounding family.

I am at an age where I am still quite young, but old enough to fully understand the gravity of the situation. Thus far, I have been lucky enough to have not had very much experience dealing with this sort of loss. However, this made the past few weeks a little extra overwhelming. During this time, when I was feeling out of sorts, I could always rely on my teammates and coaches for support and help to get my mind off of the situation. Even just getting a practice in when I could, provided a huge boost in mental stamina.

Each time I walked onto the pool deck, I could leave that weight at the door and get some training in. In times like this, I can be comforted by the fact that swimming will continue to remain a steady release.

I am learning that you cannot let unfortunate life events stop you in your tracks. Not to say it is easy, but it is possible to stay on track in the pool while at the same time dealing with what life throws your way outside of the pool.

Though you may be going through something that seems to make your world stop or run in slow motion, life will go on. Take a deep breath, dive in, and swim it out.

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7 years ago

my blue heaven Bcyf Mason Pool Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF)

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And no better place to think.