SwimSwam

A Swimmer’s Mentality: The Inner Thoughts of a Collegiate Swimmer

Colin Babcock, a senior on the men’s swim team at the University of Notre Dame, was asked to produce a video for his film photography class. The video features the Notre Dame men’s swim team and describes what it means to be a swimmer. Babcock’s goal was for everyone to be able to step into the inner thoughts of collegiate swimmers reflecting on the sport that has defined their lives for years.

Notre Dame is preparing themselves for the ACC Championships which start on Feb. 26th in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Irish are predicted to finish within the top half of the ACC.

“I really wanted to find a way to capture the drive, emotions, and utter insanity of swimmers in 3 minutes. Although it has Notre Dame swimmers in it, this video was made for anyone who has ever experienced the sport. Essentially, this video is my tribute to the sport that has shaped who I am today. In terms of ACCs, We are excited for our first championship in this very talented, deep, and competitive conference and we are ready to step up to the next level of competition!” – Colin Babcock

Transcript:
They say a man can go three days without water to survive. 

Clearly they have never met a swimmer.

Albert Einstein was quoted by saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. 

Well I guess you can call us crazy.

Every morning, we get up at 5am to jump in a cold pool and then look at a black line for miles. And with this repetition comes progress.

We push ourselves every day trying to get better. 

We reek of chlorine, our hair is fried, and we couldn’t be happier about that. 

There is no fame in swimming. In the grand scheme of things, your greatest accomplishments in the sport go unnoticed by even your closest friends.

There is no money or professional league in swimming. 

Just you and the pool.

That being said, swimmers are not driven by external motivation. In fact, you cannot swim unless you are fueled by the strongest internal motivation. When that alarm goes off in the morning, you pull yourself out of bed because you know that your work today will pay off in the future. You know that all the sweat and tears will be worth it. 

They don’t make movies about swimming. You don’t read about swimming in the newspapers. And, unless its an Olympic year, some don’t even consider swimming a sport. 

Clearly they have never witnessed it before.

Why do we do this? Why do we put ourselves agonizing practices day in and day out just for one big meet a year? We do this for ourselves. We do this because this is who we are. Swimming is not just a sport for us, it is a way of life. We are the most disciplined, time oriented people you will ever meet in your life. If there is a crossroads, we always take the path with most resistance. We look for hard work, not run away from it. 

We are a unique breed of human. 

Those who consider swimming an individual sport have never done it before. When you race, you know you are doing it for more than yourself, you are doing it for your whole team. With each stroke, you carry the weight of 30 other guys as you strive to be the first to the wall, and that weight is a burden you couldn’t imagine your life without. 

After we have swum thousands of laps for hundreds of hours of our year, we race for only a few minutes. We hear the buzzer go off, and we pour our heart and soul into that race knowing that every morning practice, every grueling weight session, every social event we sacrificed, was worth it. 

As we push our bodies to the point of complete exhaustion, we sprint to the wall. You’re not just racing the person next to you, you are racing the clock, which represents more than just time, it represents generations of swimmers who have 
already done what you are doing now and it represents the next wave of racers that will come after you. 

You see the wall approaching, you hold your breath, you give every ounce of energy you have left in your body. You give one last lunge and look back at the clock. 

And then its over. 

Comments

  1. Sharon Barrows says:
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    Colin you did an incredible job with this three minute video. You deserve an A+ from your professor.
    Kudos to you and best of luck and succes to UND at NCAA. May the Fighting Irish come out on top.
    Thanks swimswam for sharing this masterpiece.

  2. Steve Nolan says:
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    That was pretty good! (Once I stopped groaning at the opening line about water & the misattributed Einstein quote.)

    • Ben says:
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      Hmmm…seems as though you haven’t stopped groaning.

      • Steve Nolan says:
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        It was a really poor opening, what can I say.

        (I really hate things that start with the hackneyed, “Webster’s dictionary defines…” so this was really gonna grind my gears, haha.)

        Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggggghhhhhhhhh here I am groaning still.

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    Awesome. Loved it. So glad you’ve now got a lifetime of mornings ahead of you once you graduate — http://www.usms.org ;)

  4. Hannah Saiz Hannah Saiz says:
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    Loved the video. My favorite part was the very end – holding your breath and charging the wall. That was fantastic, especially matched with the video clip. Wonderful work!

  5. Susan Schwerin says:
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    Warching my grandson start the SPORT of swimming in the 9th grade, I often wondered at the magical draw it held for him. Little did I realize what it would do for him… building his self esteem, confidence, his socialability, and offering him a world of untold success. Not only was he helping his teammates win their relay races, but he was also breaking 5 school records before he headed off to college. Although his University doesn’t have a collegiate team, they do have an intramural team that holds meets with other area Universities, so he is able to continue doing what he loves most, GREAT JOB on this class assignment!! I applaude you for your years of dedication, you and ALL swimmers who live the dream…

  6. Susan Schwerin says:
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    Watching my grandson start the SPORT of swimming in the 9th grade, I often wondered at the magical draw it held for him. Little did I realize what it would do for him… building his self esteem, confidence, his socialability, and offering him a world of untold success. Not only was he helping his teammates win their relay races, but he was also breaking 5 school records before he headed off to college. Although his University doesn’t have a collegiate team, they do have an intramural team that holds meets with other area Universities, so he is able to continue doing what he loves most. GREAT JOB on this class assignment!! I applaude you for your years of dedication, you and ALL swimmers who live the dream…

  7. Tracie Carter, M.D. says:
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    From one swimmer-turned doctor-now triathlete, thank you! Even as I mend from a near fatal accident in which I was hit by a car while training on my bike 5 months ago, I am still able to swim 1-1.5 miles a couple times a week. The black line still brings peace and order and relief to my mind while the endorphins and meditative breathing take care of the rest. Swimming and particularly, my swim COACH shaped me into the successful, goal-oriented person I am today. I even apply it to my recovery in physical therapy; if my PT says I “need 125° flexion in the right knee by next Monday,” there’s no stopping me from achieving it! Amen and many blessings to you, brother!

  8. UVA Mama says:
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    I really enjoyed your video, and I think you touched on so many facets of swimming in an eloquent way. Excellent job!

  9. Stephanie Bridgmohan says:
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    awesome insight!! Can’t wait to show it my 9 yr old!!

  10. Edith McRae says:
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    Thank you, now I understand my two great-nieces devotion to the sport!

  11. Yours truly says:
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    Truly great video . But as a post collegiate swimmer (aka swamer) I disagree with some of your statements or wish you would elaborate. First let me say swimming does not define us . Our actions do. And if you are going day in, day out performing the same task, Albert Einstein is right, you are insane.

    The entire point of practice is to work on change. Everyday focusing on the tiniest details that will make you that much faster, even if it means only a hundredth of a second. I could argue that we don’t like reeking of chlorine and our hair being damaged but we accept the reactions of what we are doing because we are working towards a goal. Lastly, I would like to point out it is not that we look for the path of most resistance ; I fact, it is the complete opposite; we look for the path of least resistance but we are not afraid of the hard work it takes to achieve it. We understand, in order to have success, it is not going to be easy , it will be hard and you must be persistent.

    All and all great work! Love the shots you have taken and I am only nitpicking on words because in order to articulate what you are trying say a non swimmer will not understand unless you are clear. This brings the entire consept of “least resistance” full circle.

  12. Steve Zarzecki says:
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    “…and then its over” – Not really. Its never over. Competitive swimming is a reflection of a choice of lifestyle. And, that lifestyle embraces and enhances achievement, discipline, hard work, and the realization that reward comes from within – from the satisfaction that comes from meeting personal goals. And, even if we never swim again after college, this lifestyle is reflected in our personalities, in our self-motivation, and in our successes for the rest of our lives. Not a day goes by when I do not thank my parents, my coaches, and my teammates for my swimming experience.

    - A U of Florida Swimmer ’65 – ’68

  13. coach wally fall says:
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    Way to go Colin. I’ve known your dad, Bill, for years and remember when you were born.You have turned out to be tribute to Louisiana Swimming, your parents as well as Notre Dame. Great job and Thanks.

  14. Jean Macdonald . says:
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    Your next A shall come from being a swim parent–for a mother,you have to live it with the child. Get up with them or kick em out of bed, you get to sit on hard benches and begin the chemical attachment to your child, then you get to get em to school or camp and then head for 8 hours of work somewhere, then get home, start dinner, get to the pool to pick em up and head home, serve dinner, get em away from the tv and into their room to study, do the dishes, do all the laundry, put their clothes away, then say hi to your hubby at 10 and hope his day went ok. Why do all this? Easy–they are your children

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About Troy Gennaro

Troy Gennaro has been swimming competitively since 2003. Troy’s attention to swimming detail has led him to many opportunities in... Read More »