The Inner Workings of a Swim Family

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Photo Courtesy: Samantha Schoenecker

By Jennifer Yoo, Swimming World College Intern.

Every swimmer knows the amount of time that their sport requires. As you spend countless numbers of hours in and out of the pool with the same people, they start to become your second family. Swimmers cherish their swim families and often make lifelong friends through it.

But what makes a swim team a family? Just because you spend a lot of time together doesn’t automatically make them your family. However, over the time spent together, you begin to uncover the quirks and flaws that come with every close knit group of people. Every family has its own traditions, values and drama that make them unique. Similarly, no swim family is exactly the same; however, they all comprise the same essential elements.

Traditions

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Photo Courtesy: Greg Dixon

Within each team are certain customs that are known and honored by all. Although some traditions have unknown origins, they are never missed because they bond the team in a unique way. Some occur at every meet and some occur annually; however, each tradition is respected and implemented with care.

Whether it’s cheers before meets to provide encouragement or an annual family dinner at the end of the season to recognize those who have worked hard, these traditions all serve the same purpose. They are the glue that holds swimmers together. In the midst of hardships, swimmers can come together for a common purpose that runs deeper than the sport itself. They carry on the traditions that were put in place by swimmers who came before them because they are sacred. Each tradition stems from unique experiences that cannot be replaced. No one can truly understand how special the traditions are unless they experience it for themselves.

Values

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Photo Courtesy: Facebook, @WVWCSwimming

In every family, certain core beliefs are taught to each member. These values help shape the members in the family and the way that they relate to each other. Everyone is expected to respect and follow the guidelines that have been set forth.

On some teams, the value of being the best is emphasized and they push all of the members on their team to their absolute limits. On the other hand, some believe that having fun and trying your best is the key to success. There is always more than one value that is established on every team, and the variety makes each team different. It is important to find a team that aligns with your values.

Drama

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Photo Courtesy: Pexels, Craig Adderley

Every family has its ups and downs: their own struggles that they must learn to work through together. Swim teams experience their share of hardships as well. There are certain kinds of drama that are consistent between teams. Issues of gossiping, dating other teammates, and competing are all common problems that teams face. However, every swim team handles their problems differently. The way that members of a swim team deal with difficult situations reflects how committed they are to one another.

Drama can either drive people together or rip them apart. In any relationship, fighting is inevitable – especially in a swim team, since every swim team consists of swimmers from diverse backgrounds. Some teams allow the drama to consume them and drive a wall between teammates. As a result, they are not able to function effectively as a team. Although each team will experience many different types of drama, as long as the team members remember their love for their team, they will find ways to overcome the differences and hardship that comes their way. Besides – without the drama, just swimming will be too boring.

Share your experiences

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Photo Courtesy: Missouri State Athletics

Through thick and thin, swim families endure it all together. Every family has its own culture, and swim families are no different. As you discover more and more about your family, you learn to accept them and they accept you for who you are. No family is perfect, but what matters the most is that you are committed and will be there for one another, because that is what families do.

What are some traditions and values on your swim team? How did drama impact your team’s dynamic? Comment below!

-All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

9 comments

    • avatar
      Jennifer Yoo

      I completely agree! I love my swim families.

  1. avatar
    Daniela Navarrete

    I totally love this!!!

    • avatar
      Jennifer Yoo

      Thank you!

  2. Paula Lonney

    Kimberly Hamilton-Leonard Darren C. Leonard

  3. avatar
    Proteeti Sinha

    Great article!

    • avatar
      Jennifer Yoo

      Thank you!

  4. Alicia Kinney

    Marie Kopinski Colette Collins Clare Walsh Dana Gonciulea