by Olivier Poirier-Leroy. Join 9,000+ swimmers and coaches who read his motivational newsletter last week by clicking here.
The bond that you develop with your teammates over the course of your swimming career is difficult to describe. You share a struggle that you cannot adequately explain to those who haven’t experienced the challenge and difficulty of training and competition in the pool.
During your swimming career your teammates will see you at your worst, see you at your best, and have your back. You’ll share an uncountable number of inside jokes, long car rides, and nail-biting swim meets.
Some of your teammates will be friends for life. One of them may become (or already is) the love of your life. Others will fade off, while others will pop in and out of your life when you least expect it.
But for the time being, there is something to be said for making the most of this experience and bond.
Here are 15 signs that you are an awesome teammate:
1. You help with the equipment, even if it isn’t your turn. You put up the flags and help with the lane ropes even though you can’t swim a lap of backstroke to save your life.
2. You cheer. You are the first one on your feet to cheer, regardless of whether your teammate is in lane 4 or in lane 8. (“Outside smoke!”)
3. You leave on the 60. Not the 59, 58, the :03, or the 57. Sure, it is fun to think that you are going faster than you really are, but you know that you are only short-changing yourself by doing so, and unnecessarily riding up on the swimmers in front of you.
4. Your word means something. If you say that you are going to be there to count laps for your teammate’s 1650 freestyle, than you will be there.
5. You recognize the value in having team and group goals. Swimming may be competed individually in many circumstances, but often for many it is a team-based sport. While you may train for personal bests, seeing the team excel is just as motivating a factor.
6. You understand we all achieve more by doing it together. A couple swimmers chasing a common goal is powerful. A group of them is nearly unstoppable.
7. You own your screw ups. Nobody is perfect, and everybody makes mistakes. Ownership is the quickest way to move forward, and a good teammate is the first to admit he or she is wrong. (“Yes, I did, in fact, steal your kickboard. My bad.”)
8. You deflect your teammates’ mistakes. Nobody intends to get the relay DQ’d. When you step up and deflect some of the blame it helps everybody get back on track towards the goal at hand and moving forward (and also making your teammate feel a little less awful).
9. You realize the influence you have on the younger kids on the team. You remember how much you looked up to the older kids when you were a youngster, so you are willing to spend some time with the younger groups, sharing your experience and knowledge. (Don’t underestimate the impression this makes on them.)
10. You’re supportive. Being there for your teammates when they do spectacularly well is easy—after all, getting caught up in the excitement of a Herculean swim isn’t difficult. Being awesome means that you provide an ear and a shoulder when the swim doesn’t go according to plan as well.
11. You do your part to create a positive environment to train in. Yes, the set is hard. Some might even say that it sucks. But you’re not going to voice it. If anything, you are going to be the one to turn to your lane-mates and say—“We gots this!”
12. You know what you are doing. The intervals, reps, the focus of the set. You pay attention while coach is explaining so that you can focus on what matters—executing the set properly!
13. You take on the tough stuff with a brave face. Think back to those swimmers you looked up to when you were coming up—they always took on the big sets, the fast intervals with a relaxed, confidant attitude, helping to deflate the pain and fear you anticipated to come. Seeing someone else doing what you might have at one point thought was impossible opened your eyes to the possibility that you could do it as well.
14. The little things. Filling up a water bottle for the poor sod swimming reps of 1,000’s on his own. Bringing a kick board for your lane-mate from the equipment bin. Helping time in-practice get-up swims.
15. You are welcoming to the new kid. It can be terrifying for a youngster to come to a new team. You’re the first one to welcome them to the group, to let them know about all the weird idiosyncrasies that makes your team weird and fun and awesome at the same time.
YourSwimBook is a log book and goal setting guide designed specifically for competitive swimmers. It includes a ten month log book, comprehensive goal setting section, monthly evaluations to be filled out with your coach, and more. Learn 8 more reasons why this tool kicks butt.
Note: We now have motivational swimming posters. Five of ’em, actually.
Join the YourSwimBook weekly newsletter group and get motivational tips and more straight to your inbox. Sign up for free here.