Diligence In and Out of the Water

March 19, 2012
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August 11th. That’s the day summer 2010 ended for me. Sure, school didn’t start until the 26th or so, but I still had to be at school every day, Monday through Saturday, at around 8 a.m. When I decided to go out for the school swim team before my sophomore year, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was on the Frosh/Soph team that year, and that in itself brought upon semi-difficult practices and even a few early morning practices before school. When I moved up to JV before my junior year, those practices only got harder and the early morning practices only became more frequent. It was a commitment I decided to make somewhat hesitantly, but I pushed through to make sure I did not regret that decision in the end.

Those summer practices seemed to drag on forever, not to mention the fact that I was getting less and less sleep because it was, indeed, still summer. And I was still taking advantage of my days and my nights. When school started, though, the days only got longer. Practices were two or two and a half hours long, Monday through Friday after school. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we had morning practice; we had to be there no later than 5:25 in the morning, and we got out of practice at 6:45 to get ready for school. We even had practices on Saturday mornings, and those started at the ungodly hour of seven a.m. (we had to be there by 6:45). It was those early Saturday mornings after rolling out of bed and climbing into my car that I really thought about and pondered what I was really in this situation for.

The practices after school especially cut into my homework time. I found myself staying up later to finish everything, then I’d have to wake up super early two days a week, and it was just a repeating cycle. I worked and worked to keep my grades up, and sometimes spent my lunch period as well as my study hall period scrambling to finish everything before that 2:45 bell rang and I had to head to the pool. Nevertheless, I never let swimming take over my grades. I was stressed out most of the time, and I always had work to do when I got out of the pool after practice, but I knew I had to work hard to make sure my extracurricular didn’t affect the real reason I was there; and that was to get an education.

As the season went on, the practices got progressively harder and harder. I found myself tired just about all the time, and no matter how much sleep I managed to get in the night before, it was difficult for me to stay awake and alert in every single one of my classes every single day. However, I kept going to practice every day, and I kept working as hard as I could to make sure I pulled my weight on the team.
That’s the thing about swimming. Yes, times were taken and recorded individually, and most events involved one person in each lane, but that does not discount the fact that in relays, individual times are added together to achieve the shortest time and the highest school. If you are swimming an event in your own lane, there’s a good chance at least one of your teammates is racing in another lane, and together it us up to you both to get the fastest time possible to secure the highest places in the race. I remembered this during the times I wanted to quit; during the times when I felt like I was too tired to go to practice, or too overwhelmed with schoolwork, or too stressed out to balance both work and play. All I had to do was look at the girls on my team and that was all it took to motivate me to keep pushing forward and keep trying my best.
I wasn’t nearly the fastest swimmer on my team. Nor was I the one always scoring the points. But in those three months of swim season, I missed minimal practices, and only for sickness and serious interferences. I’ll admit I could have swum harder at some practices; some days you’re just not feeling it, but for the most part I gave it my all. I tried my best to “leave it all in the pool,” as my dad puts it, and to give forth my best effort every time I swam a race. I tried to keep up with my faster teammates and use them as competition for myself to go faster. I looked at the times of the girls on varsity and compared them to my own. In doing this, I was able to motivate myself to improve my best times as the season progressed.
This work paid off in the end; in my last race of my last meet of the year, I swam in the 200 freestyle relay. My split was 50 yards (four people swim 50 yards each) and I was able to put it all in the pool. I swam my fastest 50 free time to date, and I came in first in my split. No, this does not give me bragging rights; I even surprised myself in winning. But I later realized that although I did not realize I was doing it at the time, my diligence in pacing myself throughout the season and showing up to practice and putting my heart into what I was doing, I was able to come through in the end with a best time for myself and a win for my team.

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