The Time-Suck Called Swimming: Is It Worth It?

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Photo Courtesy: Bob Davis

The Time-Suck Called Swimming: Is It Worth It?

By SuSu Almousa (From the Archive)

Swimmers become “swammers” and swammers typically stay swammers but the sport doesn’t leave us as easily as changing a vowel in our titles. In retirement, we watch meets and there is typically a yearning for a chance to race again. Yet, while we were in the pool, some of us know all too well the struggle of having to trade in our social lives for the sport.

Swimmers do not know the luxury of free time. Since we were little youngsters swimming 25s in the 8-and-under heats, we made a commitment to show up to practice every day and show up to every meet with vigor. This commitment only got stronger as our age division increased.

One-hour practice became three-hour practice. Playing wall-ball before practice became dryland workouts. One practice a day became two during the summer. It seemed like every hour of free time we were granted was traded in for more pool activities.

As a swimmer, we always had somewhere to be. Driving to practice took forever, and then practice itself was never short, so our weekdays were consumed with homework and swimming, as there was always very little time for anything else. Sometimes we had to eat our dinners in the car, or read on the way to practice and we quickly learned how every second was valuable in that respect, but we rarely had time for much else.

Frankly, most of the time, we looked forward to practice because our friends were on our teams and it seemed like less of a workout and more of a happy place where we were allowed time to think, process, and let out any stresses that had held us down that day. But, if practice revolved around lactate levels, somehow we left practice a little more bitter than we entered.

As we grew older, the impact on our social life grew larger and there was always a question floating in the back of our minds when we were obstructed from hanging out with friends because of a prior swimming commitment:

Is it worth it? We would miss out on all the “fun” stuff with friends because we had an out-of-state meet that took the entire weekend? Or is it worth the exhaustion that barred us from wanting to do much other than sleep on our free time? Is it worth the broad shoulders and damaged hair? Is it worth missing every high school party? Is it worth the time commitment in college?

Overall, it would be wrong to say the answer would be the same for all swimmers, but swimmers have a general tenacity about them, that leads me to believe the answer is: yes, it is completely worth it.

The sport teaches us more than how to swim across the length of a pool— it acts as a haven, a safe place, somewhere we feel completely comfortable. No mater where we are in the world, a pool will always be our second home. Swimming is a refuge from all of the anxieties and problems that bog us down, because in the water the only thing that matters is you. As little kids, we went to practice ready to have fun and as we grew up, on bad days we started yearning for the pool time as a way to deal with any frustrations that held us back.

Our best friends were swimmers because no one really gets swimmers quite like other swimmers, so going to practice was just another excuse to see our friends and have someone to gossip with in-between sets. Although we all had school-friends that hosted parties we wish we could have been a part of, deep down we all know that our closest friends are the ones we share a lane with and smack hands with during a butterfly set.

Finally, swimming teaches us things that really are only fully appreciated once we become swammers. Things like character building, and time management, confidence, humility, gratitude, and hard work. Nothing comes easy in life, and nothing comes easy in the water either. No matter how many complaints we have spewed about practice or meets and our lack of any social life, the answer will always be yes. Swimming is worth every social sacrifice, and I’d bet that the majority of swammers feel the same way.

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

53 comments

  1. avatar
    Kate Crowley

    typo “gets simmers quite like other swimmers”

  2. avatar
    Terry Carlsen

    gresy

  3. avatar
    Kara Ballard

    It’s worth it

  4. avatar
    Tanya Irving Mccormick

    Not a time suck when you love it!

  5. avatar
    Gracie DeLong

    Worth every minute.

  6. avatar
    Laura Cooper Crouch

    Best title ever! And yes, it’s worth it because my kids are healthy and happy.

  7. avatar
    Monica Sagrado Chiong

    Worth the sacrifice.

  8. avatar
    Therese Fay

    So worth it!!

  9. avatar
    Belinda Cheong

    Thanks for this article, spot on for me!

  10. avatar
    Chantel Jarrett Burton

    Totally worth it and I have niece who plays softball I think that takes more time than swimming

  11. avatar
    Heidi-Paola Sanchez

    Absolutely worth the sacrifice!

  12. avatar
    Tina Comi

    Dana

    • avatar
      Dana Marie Kennedy

      I am who I am because I was a swimmer. I was lucky that my mom always said she would support me but it was up to me if I wants to practice or not. I woke her up rather than she waking me up. It was my choice not hers. Many swimmers burnt out because they didn’t want it as much as their parents. I also don’t like being told what to do so that is an important dynamic. I love swimming to this day. So many great life experiences.

  13. avatar
    Kelby Conley

    So worth every minute.

  14. avatar
    Jimmy Cochran

    Abby Cochran

  15. avatar
    April Smith

    Evan Smith

  16. avatar
    Jenny Lynn Utendorf

    So true

  17. avatar
    Joe Bonifacio

    Yes

  18. avatar
    Spencer Rausch

    Absolutely

  19. avatar
    Jennifer Keller

    Beautifully written! I felt such a connection to many of your sentiments here.

  20. avatar
    Fuss Saalfeld

    Very much worth it!!

  21. avatar
    Michelle Costarella

    30 minutes every day on my lunch hour and the best workout and clears my mind…I love swimming!! Try it!!

  22. avatar
    Ashley Yanzsa

    Yes. Swimming helped me find my identity. Swimming helped me defeat bullies. Swimming helped me shaped into the person I am today.

  23. avatar
    Susi Hostettler Birrer

    Thank you for the article. So worth!

  24. avatar
    Stephanie Pike

    Kimberley Lucas worth a read!

    • avatar
      Kimberley Lucas

      I’d like to read it Stephanie Pike, but unfortunately can’t get the page up.

  25. avatar
    Kayuyis Dpz

    Sii

  26. avatar
    Michael Barnes

    Elliott Lewis Gary Dodd

  27. avatar
    Amy Sitz

    We have traveled countless miles with the kids swimming almost coast to coast. Have supported kids thru a bucket list of major meets Sectionals, Far Westerns, Zones, State championships etc etc. It doesn’t matter if it’s an outdoor meet at 105 degrees in Elko Nv or Clovis CA, -40 when we got to Gillette WY it was the memories we all have of the trips together as a family. 1st place or a dq we will always have the memories.

  28. avatar
    Julie Dworak Peterson

    Molly Peterson – good read:-). ?

  29. avatar
    Mariana Vayanas

    Than there’s the parents side> Waiting waiting waiting, can’t imagine my son not swimming! Waiting worth my Love, every meet, every tear & joy, every medal or ribbon, every yard or meter ?????????

  30. avatar
    Diane

    Not only is are these sentiments true for the athletes, but for their entire families. Had two children who swam, one reached the highest attainable swimming goal, the other child, both now adults always shared in the excitement and enthusiasm. Family that swims together, volunteers together, stays together. Keeps our children too busy to ever get in trouble. Awesome article. Thank you

  31. avatar
    Kirsten Jennifer

    Kathleen Corso Cook. I’m sure Sean can relate. For us, I have to say, change the title to softball and we can totally relate.

  32. avatar
    Julie-Anne Warn

    Kiera Mae

  33. avatar
    Gavin Sweeney

    A lot easier to look back on with joy than look forward to with joy.

  34. avatar
    Bill V.

    Depends on the individual. For me, swimming was worthwhile as a kid, but would’ve been a huge time-suck in college, so I’m very thankful I didn’t swim in college. Swimming competitively as an adult was also fun at times, but today it would be a huge time-suck. I’ve got too many other things to do, and traveling for swimming competitions doesn’t make the list anymore.

  35. avatar
    Eva Edwards

    Heck yea

  36. avatar
    Tammy Hebert

    The same with any kids sport…especially gymnastics.

  37. avatar
    Patricia Mathis

    Thanks, I needed this as we head for yet another meet in steamy Texas.

  38. avatar
    Swim Giggles LLC

    There is a right level of swimming for everyone. Sometimes it’s a club time + hs swimming, sometimes just summer league. Whatever the level and commitment, it’ll be worth it! 🙂

  39. avatar
    Julie Friedman

    Philippa Berrington Blew

  40. avatar
    Paula Manns

    Devin Kellett Kenyon Kellett!!!!

  41. avatar
    Jennifer Aronson

    COMPLETE..WASTE..OF…TIME….

  42. avatar
    JoAnn Goodner

    Of course it was worth it. Time was never” suck”

  43. avatar
    Todd Stultz

    56 And still worth it. Nothing recharges the body after an overnight shift reading 70-100 MRI or CT Neuro scans like 5000m in the pool (after the post night nap of course !)

  44. avatar
    Elizabeth McCracken Harvey

    Worth every second

  45. avatar
    Debra Murane Eagleton

    Totally recommend swimming for everyone! Such a confidence builder. My kids started at 6-8 years old and still swim. They’ve made great friends in the sport and excelled in school.

  46. avatar
    Erik Scheiner

    Well said! The friendships and connections made through sports is worth all the time sacrificed.

  47. Dave Amezcua

    What are you going to get out of hanging out at the mall, filling up on over-priced high cholesterol junk food, moping about what you wish you could buy, picking up a smoking/vaping habit, and being pressured into all kinds of mischief?

  48. Julie Tellier

    Among athletes swimmers are the kings and queens of time management and are scholar athletes. Swimmers are disciplined in and out of the pool. Swimmers are confident and humble at the same time and can accept failure gracefully. There is no better sport.

  49. Amy Liberi Palmer

    100 percent. Especially as I see many kids up to no good. Most of these kids are good kids who spend the majority of their time at the pool

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