Dedication & Determination = A Swimmer

October 23, 2011
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I was a competitive swimmer for five years with a swim team in my hometown of Tallahassee, Florida. I know what it’s like to be up at the crack of dawn, running endless laps. My non-swimmer friends and relatives told me I was crazy, that swimming was boring, that it was just endless monotony. But to a swimmer, there is no better adrenaline rush than standing on the block alongside seven other swimmers, or winning a race by a tenth of a second.

Competitive swimming requires an intense level of dedication. You have to force yourself to get out of your warm bed at 5:30 in the morning to put on a still-slightly-damp swimsuit and stand in 40 degree weather waiting for practice to start. You have to put up with limited lane space, jerks of lifeguards, and irritating swimmers who think they’re faster than you. So, in essence, you have to be hands-down devoted to it to stick with it.

Swimmers also require a fierce determination. A strong will, so when the going gets tough, the tough get going. You have to make a conscious effort to work on your stroke form, your turns, your touches. Every swimmer knows that the last stroke can make or break a race. You may think you tied the swimmer next to you, but in reality they touched a sixteenth of a second before you. In swimming, every second counts. My coach hammered into me that it wasn’t you against the swimmers in the other lanes, it was you against the clock, you against yourself. After about a year or so of swimming, I started ignoring everyone in the other lanes. From the second I heard the bell, to the moment I touched the wall, it was me against myself. It was me, pushing myself as hard, and as fast and far as I could go. To me, if when I finished the race, I could pull myself up out of the pool right after I finished, I didn’t race hard enough. But those times when I would race a 200 yard sprint, by the last 50 yards, I felt like I was pulling lead. But I would just think, “I WANT to beat my previous best time, I have to finish this,” and, miraculously I would finish. Those times I always felt best about my races, because I could not physically pull myself out of the water, my arms felt like jelly, I would have to wait a few seconds before getting out.

Because even though to the people around me I didn’t win, to myself, I was unbeatable.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Swim4Him24 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 27, 2015 at 4:18 pm
I really like how you mentioned not being able to pull yourself out at the end of a race, I feel like that totally describes how hard we as swimmers push ourselves Go Swim :D
gurch said...
Mar. 25, 2015 at 1:10 pm
HI i lovew swimming too
gurch replied...
Mar. 25, 2015 at 1:11 pm
Swimming is amazing and I 100% agree with this article, thank you for writing such an amazing piece on swimming.
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