The Importance of Mental Health for Swimmers

Mental Health

The Importance of Mental Health for Swimmers

As with all sports, there is a mental barrier that can come down around a swimmer that can prevent him or her from reaching a certain time, competing at a higher level, or staying active in the pool. Often, kids who start swimming at a young age will get burned out by the time they are in high school and give up on the sport without pursuing it in college.

Starting competing at age five meant I had a long way to go and a lot to learn before I would ever reach a competitive level of swimming where I could improve my future by earning a scholarship or claiming achievements in the water. Never did I achieve my goal of going to the Olympics (nor do I think I will), but I believe I learned something valuable during my journey as a swimmer that I wish I would have known when I was younger. Mental health is critical.

You don’t have to compare yourself to anyone else

No one makes your decisions for you, and you can’t hold yourself accountable to anyone else, so why would you compare yourself to other athletes?  You have the ability to make yourself the best athlete you can be, and you also can make the decision to step away from the pool and take a break.

It is important to take time away from the pool; You will return more motivated to learn and train

I spent 13 years swimming year round, and I loved it, until I didn’t love it anymore. Not only did swimming become a physical burden but it also became an emotional burden because I knew I would have to put myself through a hard two hour practice and have not a lot come out of it.

Winning isn’t everything

Competition is great, but learning how to handle a loss is even more important than winning a race or an event. Losing teaches you how to handle hardships in your life.

Being a better person makes you a better athlete, teammate, and swimmer

Different teams have different dynamics, and sometimes switching between a club team and high school team and college team can wear on an athlete as well. 

Swimming isn’t everything

After graduating from high school or college or finishing a career in Masters swimming, that’s it. You’re done. You get to move on with the rest of your life, and swimming becomes a part of your personal history. For me, my swimming past is a very important and fond memory, and I wouldn’t trade my time in the pool for anything.

Coming out of my high school season my senior year, I was ready to quit swimming forever. I had enough of practices and meets and the insane amount of pressure I felt to perform at the top of my game. Swimming wasn’t fun anymore, and looking back at my experience, I realize that many of my teammates felt the same way.

Taking a break from swimming can be healing, and while we can take time to learn about ourselves outside the pool in order to improve ourselves in the pool, taking a break is not for everyone. However, whether a break from swimming is helpful to you as an athlete to grow or staying in the pool is mentally better for you, mental health is very important to every athlete.

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