Thank you, Swimming: The Best Sport Out There

Photo Courtesy: R-Sport / MIA Rossiya Segodnya

by Mariana de Paula, Swimming World College Intern

To the best thing I’ve ever done,

This November, I am thankful for everything I had the opportunity to learn in life. I’m especially thankful for the sport that took me across the globe and let me live my dreams.

The one sport which requires obsessive commitment regardless of the competitive level. A sport that I have learned to love more and more, and never seem to stop loving. A love that goes beyond any Olympic year boost.

Swimming can make you crazy. The chlorine factor, added to hours of having your face underwater, locked in complete silence sounds a little crazy. No one to talk to, no one that can do it for you. The real individual sport.

You face difficulties that go beyond common health issues. Swimmers have constant injury risk, both in the upper and lower body. We face stress and anxiety on a daily basis, and learn how to deal with it. Many times I’ve felt desperate after correcting one detail on my stroke, and ended up getting 10 other elements wrong.

Despite all of the difficulties I can count, I wouldn’t have chosen anything different. All of the bumps in the road were essential to make me a better swimmer. Maybe because only something that put you so high up can make you fall so hard. Because even after years without beating a lifetime best, there was never a day that my disappointment exceeded my hope.

I’ve yet to find a satisfaction greater than finishing a morning practice. Nothing to describe “accomplishment” better than feeling all the pain at the end of a set and knowing that you gave absolutely everything you had that day. I still don’t know how to control the adrenaline that runs through my veins when I see someone else competing, as if my heart was desperately calling me to get back in the water.

Arena Pro Swim Series Minnesota

Photo Courtesy: Maddy Olson

The emptiness of the silence makes you stronger. Your face in the water forces you to organize your thoughts and build a mindset that makes all the other athletes jealous. It gave me the real definition of “mind over matter.” Recognition, in swimming, will only be an issue for those who do it for the fame. Love does not seek for recognition or attention. Swimmers, like me, are rather moved by challenge.

Oh, and the time… If there is something swimmers appreciate like no other is the value of a second. A hundredth of a second can separate you from the first place. A tenth of a second is what may have left you out of that final you have always dreamed about. A second is the difference between you and that cut you never seem to reach. Ten seconds is that tight interval in a set that you thought wouldn’t be enough for you to recover. Even months of recovering from an injury can be painfully worth it on the long run.

Time is the key we carry in our favor in order to build a lifetime achievement.

After a while, you learn how to love the sport, and everything about it. You learn how to win with humbleness – but most of all, you learn how to cope with failure.

Swimming does not define me, but it has definitely shaped me to be the person I am today. And for that reason, I thank the best sport there is.

I am grateful for the day I put my foot in a pool for the first time.

I can’t imagine myself without the sport that has shaped my entire life.


As I wrote in a poem a few years ago:

“I am not, after all, what I do.

I found out

That at the end of the day

I am what I feel.


Always were.

Always will.”

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6 years ago

Great article and beautiful poem!

6 years ago

Does a body good!!

6 years ago


6 years ago

Yazid Shalaby

6 years ago

Well written article! Great little poem 🙂

6 years ago

Mary Lu Thralls!

6 years ago

Inspiring, thank you!
“I’ve yet to find a satisfaction greater than finishing a morning practice.”
“I am grateful for the day I put my foot in a pool for the first time.”
Swimming is gift!

Maria Cristina
6 years ago

Love you , my daughter. ..