We are swimmers. That is a simple sentence for a simple fact. We spend hours in the pool so that we can get from one wall to the other as fast as possible. I am confident that I am not the only one who on occasion, in the midst of a particularly hard season or even just a hard set, asks myself why. I say to myself “if you can think of five reasons to keep going then it is okay to flip at the next wall.” So, without further ado here are my five reasons we swim:
1) It is good for us (relatively)
Yes we complain about our shoulders, knees, backs, and who knows what else but ultimately swimming is good for you! I know as well as anyone that when my shoulder is having a bad week it is the worst part of my life but when weighed against a concussion, broken bone, torn ACL or any other number of injuries that regularly occur in other sports it doesn’t seem so bad. Believe it or not swimming is not even really bad for your body. Many of us simply don’t feel like stretching after 8000 yards or holding good posture in class. To put it simply, there is a reason the 70 year olds you see at the local pool can still swim laps. You rarely, if ever, see 70 year olds playing soccer, football, or basketball.
2) For the people
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, swimmers are not normal people. Maybe it is the sport that attracts us, or maybe it is the sport that makes us that way, but being a swimmer is much more than being an athlete. Swimming has introduced us all to tons of people that are like us, that understand us. We swim because swimmers will always be there for us, for better or for worse, in times of boredom and in times of radical change. When you have to pick up your life and leave things behind you can count on there being swimmers ahead.
3) Work ethic
As swimmers we are trained to handle more than most can even think about. Between family, school, swimming, and social lives we are indoctrinated with some of the best work ethics you will ever see. Swimming teaches mental toughness just as it teaches physical toughness. When crunch time rolls around a swimmer is always ready to put his or her head down and do what needs done. We do not worry about lost sleep or achy muscles preventing us from achieving at our peak potential. This is an ability you will lean on for the rest of your life.
Nobody wants to say it, but we all think it. We have beautiful, fit bodies and can eat whatever we want without worrying about gaining weight. We do not workout in ways that will make us fat when we are older and while we are young we will be forever toned and, if you have the opportunity to train outdoors, tanned. I recognize that this is not a great reason to swim, but we happily take it for granted every day. Remember to appreciate your hard earned fitness while it lasts.
5) Because we cannot imagine life without it
Just try it. Think of everything that swimming has given you, whether it be friends, fitness, a job, a spouse or all of the above, now try and imagine your life without all of those things. Pretty tough if I do say so myself. It is true that I, like many of you, sometimes imagine myself happy with and extra four hours a day to do what I please, but then I consider what my options might be. I remember everything that swimming has done for me and realize that it is worth more than four hours a day. This is really the only reason we need to keep going, and I encourage you to keep this in mind during your toughest sets and seasons. After all if it wasn’t for me swimming, you would not be reading this article right now.