The 4 Hidden Gems of Swimming

Mar 21, 2015; Greensboro, NC, USA; Missy Franklin and Beryl Gastaldello congratulate each other after swimming in 400m freestyle relay during NCAA Division I Swimming and Diving-Championships at Greensboro Aquatic Center. Mandatory Credit: Evan Pike-USA TODAY Sports

The 4 Hidden Gems of Swimming

How important is it to value your sport and its inner workings? This is a question that applies to more than just sports, but think for a moment about the values that swimming either has brought you, or other facets of the sport you take pride in. Forget the practices, meets, times, lifts, etc. We each have a struggle with swimming, whether we admit it or not. Injury, issues with mental wellness, plateauing, motivation. The list drags on. On the other hand, we have our earnings: Best times, amazing practices, perfect meets and new experiences. Little do people recognize the value that each experience in the sport, good or bad, shapes us in some way as a person beyond the sport. At a deeper level, there is a connection among the community of swimmers where we are able to understand and empathize with each other. All of our experiences differ slightly, but there are certainly large takeaways from the sport that remain with us the rest of our lives. If you have never taken a moment to reflect on what the sport has given you, try these out for starters.

Fitness

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Photo Courtesy:

While this one may seem obvious, the level of fitness swimming provides us as athletes is extremely important. How fortunate are we to have a sport that simultaneously uses so many parts of our body, strengthening us the more we practice and compete? Our level of fitness brings us a talent that so many people in the world find difficult, or do not even have the ability to do. We tend to get so caught up in the different realms of performance that we forget how truly strong we are, regardless of competition. In terms of longevity, we have a gift in that we can continue to nourish our bodies with an exercise that involves such little strain on the body. In this way, swimming has a lifelong impact.

Skill

Across America and the rest of the world, the ability to swim is scarce in some areas, as well as across certain ethnic and racial groups. Because of these disparities, it’s important that as swimmers, we take our talent and knowledge and give back to these communities. According to the American Red Cross, drowning is a leading cause of death in the U.S., as 10 people die each day from unintentional drowning. In order to combat this problem, take part in giving swim lessons to individuals or groups of individuals learning how to swim. You have been lucky enough to understand the ins-and-outs of swimming that your experience goes beyond peril.

Camaraderie

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Photo Courtesy: Kansas Swim & Dive (@KUSwimDive)

While there is debate about swimming being a team or individual sport, the overall answer is that it is both. With this, it’s important to recognize the relationships you have with your teammates. Only you and your closest training partners can understand what you all go through, in and out of the pool. It’s not only important to make sure you have someone ready to support you, but you also have the tools to support them. Swimming makes this easy because in a lot of cases, you see your teammates more often than your friends or family. Swimming is not an easy sport, but the friendships you make during this time can be just the boost you need at any moment in time.

Discipline

You don’t understand how disciplined you are until you are taken out of the sport. Whether you are taking a break or have finished your career, swimming forces you to keep yourself accountable in so many ways. Whether it be time management, studying, homework, socializing, or other areas of your life, swimming keeps you in check. Not only that, but you learn to understand the implications of hard work, or a good work ethic in general. This is a skill that will be of immense help in your life later as you enter the real world. It may not be the easiest, but discipline in swimming will actually change your life in many ways.

Take 30 seconds, five minutes, or whatever spare time you may have and reflect on the hidden gems of swimming and what they mean to you. How do they apply to your life and identity outside of swimming? How have they made you grow as a person? Are there any values which you have yet to seek out? Practicing this tactic may be able to not only ground you in the sport, but it may be eye opening to some changes you want to see happen. If you’re really up to it, talk to a coach or teammate and express your thoughts, as well as encourage them to do the same. Swimming can be hard, so take some time to remind yourself of the benefits and highlights of our great sport.

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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