Jennifer J, a 14-year old swimmer at Crawfish Aquatics in Louisiana, wanted to enter a local writing contest, and she could think of no better topic than the sport that she lives and loves. She put together the following piece where her goal is to explain to an outsider this sport that we’re crazy about and still drives us crazy.
What is water? Some people say we can’t live without it. We need it for survival. It is their enemy. It is their friend. It is unpredictable and wild, yet it is tame and inviting. Water… so undefinable. But to me, the pool is my home, the water is my best friend, hard work is my passion, and swimming is my life. An outsider to the sport would call us insane for staring at a black line for hours on end, but really it’s much more than that.
I began swimming two years ago. I thought it would be fun and great exercise, little did I know that I would soon be addicted to it and never turn away. I was definitely not a natural, I slowly worked my way up the list, and I am now on an exclusive community team that is the defending state champions. I’ve been through everything you can imagine- injuries, losses, wins, friendships, enemies, sickness- yet I would never trade the lessons I learned from that for the world. Truly, swimming is a great sport. At one meet you might be ranked number one, then at the next you may finish last. It is such a fast-moving sport.
Every true swimmer has the will to work hard and get better every single day. It’s this that pushes you through those grueling practices where you just want to pass out; it’s what makes you spend an unfathomable amount of time in the pool just to shave off a millisecond in your next race; it’s what consumes your thoughts every second of the day to just achieve that unimaginable goal time. This is why swimming is not for the feeble-minded. It is the most mentally challenging thing I have ever done. You must train your hardest to overcome your fastest enemy who may as well be your best friend in the lane next to you. Swimming is simply unbelievable.
I never knew I had such a strong passion for swimming until this summer. I spent more than 100 hours in the pool this summer and made some of the best memories of my life. It was worth getting up at 6:00 AM to train for hours a day instead of having tons of sleepovers with my friends. It was worth spending my summer going to two practices a day instead of going on fancy, luxury vacations all over the world. I made friendships that will last a life time and have discovered more things about myself than I ever thought was possible. This summer I found the will to succeed and never give up. I found it in the water.
I can apply this to any aspect of my life which is the amazing thing about swimming. When you are swimming a long set and feel like you are going to drown, this is where the champions are made.
Beneath the water is a different, complete world. It’s almost impossible to describe every aspect of it. I feel alive under the water. I feel free. I feel at home. I feel like myself. But most importantly I feel that my desire for success is greater than my fear of failure.