I’ve been swimming for as long as I can remember. I began at the age of 4 and continued until this year–marking a career of 15 years.
There are so many athletes whether they’re in age group, high school, collegiate or pro levels. It blows my mind. But there comes a time in everyone’s athletic career when things come to a halt–whether it’s a result from injury, conflict, or age….things end eventually.
What happens when it ends? Where do we go? What do we do? What are we to think?
No one really ever tells you just how hard the process of ending your career is. It’s difficult and painful. I ended mine a couple months ago and I still occasionally feel down about it.
But then you kind of have to stop yourself and think. Remember the good times, and forget the rest. I’m grateful for the 15 years I was gifted with.
Through swimming, I learned more about myself than anything else. I figured out how to handle my schedule first of all. Swimming isn’t splashing and floating, it’s swimming back and forth for hours. Having to set aside time to train was surprisingly helpful in the long run. It helps you learn at a very young age how to prioritize your schedule and how to set aside time to do certain things. As a high school student, and especially in college, you really have to be on task about getting things done and setting your schedule straight.
I’m grateful for the community. It’s incredibly supportive. Swimming is unique in that the guys and gals train together. And that’s pretty cool. I’ve made some brothers and sisters because of this sport–and it’s all because it comes down to wanting the best for each other. A teammate’s success is your own. And your success is your team’s as well.
Swimming has taught me that success doesn’t come unless there’s failure first. You usually have to fail first in order to succeed. Best times don’t just come out of nowhere. It comes from hard work, dedication, and the will to go faster when you don’t get your best time the first time.
The bonds you make will last a lifetime. You may not talk to your teammates as often as you did before you went separate ways, but you will always share a special bond. Training hard together through the tears and frustration bonds you with your peers in ways that simply cannot be duplicated. Those bonds never die.
Swimming teaches you to have fun. Hard work can be fun. Getting best times can be fun. But most of all–being with the people you love the most and making unforgettable memories is the most fun you could possibly have.
It’s difficult to fully express everything that I have gained from the sport. All I can leave you with is this: take advantage of the sport or hobby you’re involved in while it lasts. It will teach you more than you could ever imagine and leave you with some of your fondest memories.