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

age-group-teammates swimming
Photo Courtesy: Bob Davis

The Time-Suck Called Swimming: Why It Is 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.

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Jennifer Keller
5 years ago

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

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Ashley Yanzsa
5 years ago

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

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Chantel Jarrett Burton
5 years ago

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

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Michelle Costarella
5 years ago

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

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Laura Cooper Crouch
5 years ago

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

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Not a time suck when you love it!

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Kelby Conley
5 years ago

So worth every minute.

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5 years ago

Very much worth it!!

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5 years ago

typo “gets simmers quite like other swimmers”

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5 years ago
Reply to  Kate Crowley

Thank you! It’s been fixed.

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Belinda Cheong
5 years ago

Thanks for this article, spot on for me!

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Susi Hostettler Birrer
5 years ago

Thank you for the article. So worth!

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5 years ago

Worth the sacrifice.

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Jenny Lynn Utendorf
5 years ago

So true

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Heidi-Paola Sanchez
5 years ago

Absolutely worth the sacrifice!

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Stephanie Pike
5 years ago

Kimberley Lucas worth a read!

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Kimberley Lucas
5 years ago
Reply to  Stephanie Pike

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

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5 years ago

Absolutely

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Gracie DeLong
5 years ago

Worth every minute.

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Kara Ballard
5 years ago

It’s worth it

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Therese Fay
5 years ago

So worth it!!

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Joe Bonifacio
5 years ago

Yes

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Kayuyis Dpz
5 years ago

Sii

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5 years ago

Evan Smith

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Tina Comi
5 years ago

Dana

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Dana Marie Kennedy
5 years ago
Reply to  Tina Comi

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.

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Jimmy Cochran
5 years ago

Abby Cochran

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5 years ago

gresy

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5 years ago

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 ?????????

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Amy Sitz
5 years ago

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.

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Julie Dworak Peterson
5 years ago

Molly Peterson – good read:-). ?

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5 years ago

Elliott Lewis Gary Dodd

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Diane
5 years ago

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

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Bill V.
5 years ago

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.

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Kirsten Jennifer
5 years ago

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.

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Gavin Sweeney
5 years ago

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

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5 years ago

Kiera Mae

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Patricia Mathis
5 years ago

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

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5 years ago

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! 🙂

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Jennifer Aronson
5 years ago

COMPLETE..WASTE..OF…TIME….

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Todd Stultz
5 years ago

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 !)

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5 years ago

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.

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JoAnn Goodner
5 years ago

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

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Tammy Hebert
5 years ago

The same with any kids sport…especially gymnastics.

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Elizabeth McCracken Harvey
5 years ago

Worth every second

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Eva Edwards
5 years ago

Heck yea

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Julie Friedman
5 years ago

Philippa Berrington Blew

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5 years ago

Devin Kellett Kenyon Kellett!!!!

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Erik Scheiner
5 years ago

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

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1 year ago

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?

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1 year ago

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.

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1 year ago

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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1 year ago

The same question can be asked about golf….

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