4 Things I Wish I Knew Sooner: Swimming Edition

Dawn makes a splash with kids - swimming

4 Things I Wish I Knew Sooner: Swimming Edition

Hey little swimmers.

When you think of the sport of swimming, what comes to mind? It’s probably a certain time that you’re dying to achieve, or ways to get better, or maybe it’s the idea of a faster, stronger, better version of yourself.

I’m not here to tell you that these are bad thoughts to associate with the sport of swimming. Nine times out of 10, if you are a swimmer, you’re probably an extremely competitive person by nature. This is a characteristic that you should treasure greatly.

But if I were to do it all over again, there are some valuable things I’ve encountered in this sport that I would’ve treasured a little more. It’s easy to get lost in the pressure, the times that the clock endlessly spits out at you, the person swimming next to you who is absolutely kicking your butt, etc. In other words, it’s easy to get lost in the wrong things.

There are so many great things around you in this sport that often get swept under the rug. If only you would just open yourself up to them, little swimmer.

Here’s a list of things I wish I knew sooner. Things I would do differently if I had the chance, and things I am working on with the remaining time I have left in this precious sport.

Remember Why You Started

Or, better yet, remember why you kept going. If you’re anything like me, you probably dove into this crazy world of swimming because your parents signed you up for it. You were eight years old, give or take, and you were trying to find a hobby to fill up your free time. A lot of us didn’t know what we were getting into when we started.

But you kept going because you found a home in the water. You kept going because the sport of swimming brought you a certain joy that basketball, soccer or gymnastics couldn’t bring you. You developed a passion for it, almost immediately, and you kept going for you.

You might’ve started for your parents, or for your friends, or because the swim coach wanted you to give it a shot. But you didn’t keep swimming because they wanted you to. You kept swimming because you wanted to. You weren’t swimming for all of these people when you were eight, so please remember that you aren’t swimming for them now.

You’re swimming for the eight-year-old who fell in love with the sport in the first place. You’re swimming for the 10-year-old who met lifelong friends on their club team. You’re swimming for the 12-year-old who swam at their first big meet ever and felt the adrenaline rush of competing on a large scale for the first time. You’re swimming for the 14-year-old who missed a qualifying time by 0.01 and felt like their world stopped spinning. You’re swimming for the 16-year-old who finally achieved that qualifying time and felt like they were on top of the world. You’re swimming for the 18-year-old who decided to continue their love for the sport on a college level. You’re swimming for the 20-year-old who moved outrageously far from home, only to find a new one in a new pool with new lifelong friends.

You are always swimming for you. Never forget that.

Crack a Smile Every Once and a While

Nothing is ever as serious as it seems. Even at the largest, most competitive swim meets, it’s never that serious. Especially with something like swimming.

Swimming is a sport. You dive into a pool of water to see who can swim from one end of the pool to the other the fastest. It’s as simple as that. Don’t make it more than it is.

It takes a few hours out of your day, and then you live your life for the remainder of it. It shouldn’t be all-consuming, at least not in an unhealthy way.

Don’t put so much pressure on yourself, kid. You love this sport, remember? Enjoy every moment. You’ll probably swim faster with this mindset, anyway.

Be Nice to Everyone You Meet

You know the saying, “It takes a village”? Well, take a look around. Your teammates, your coaches, your trainers; this is your village. These are your people. This is your family.

The stronger the bond you have with the people around you, the more enjoyable this sport will be. The easier those seemingly-impossible practices will be. These people are here for you, so be there for them. Be the best teammate you can be.

Leave glitter on every single thing you touch. Every single human you speak to. It can be a scary environment, especially when it feels as if the pressure is going to quite literally cave your world in. You have the power to make it less scary. To make it light and fun. Not only just for you, but for everyone around you. You can make this world of swimming a better place.

You set the tone, little swimmer. You have that power. Encourage your teammates every chance you get. Tell your coach that the swim practice he wrote was a great workout. Thank your trainer for tending to your aching bones every day. Tell the swimmer from the opposing team that they had an amazing race.

You are so lucky to have these people in your life. The way you carry yourself and interact with those around you will go an enormously long way; it’s bound to benefit lots of people, including yourself. Make the experience worthwhile.

Soak Up Every Moment

This one is self-explanatory, kid.

One day you’ll be laughing and stuffing goldfish into your mouth with your club swim team pals, and then you’ll blink, and you’ll be standing in front of your college swim team, delivering a speech about how much the sport of swimming has meant to you with the end of your career on the horizon. The very near horizon. And you’ll wonder where the time has gone.

Make sure the time passes with lots of smiles, lots of laughs, and lots of heartwarming moments. Make sure you look back on these years without regretting a single thing. Make them the best years of your life, because they very well might be.

Soak up every single moment.

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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2 years ago


2 years ago

All these philosophies are very true. First we started out to be safe around the pool. Then I became a fun event. After a while it was a challenge. It was a community of friends if you decided to commit. It’s ok to decide it wasn’t for you and your level of energy and commitment because it became that. When you decided to stay you had friends and a community. I decided if I was going to make it I always had to try my best and not quit. Every day was a challenge so I changed myself to never give up in swimming and in future life. I have always lived by that moto and have always accomplished my personal goals!

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