5 Things You Will Take Away From Swimming

Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer based out of Victoria, BC. In feeding his passion for swimming, he has developed YourSwimBook, a powerful log book and goal setting guide made specifically for swimmers. Sign up for the YourSwimBook newsletter (free) and get weekly motivational tips by clicking here.

Swimming is a gift in a lot of ways. Sure, there are lots of “missed” moments, those parties you have to hear about on Monday mornings (which no one completely remembers anyways), and bumped heads from not getting the backstroke flags up in time. But those little things will seem trivial, funny, or completely irrelevant in the years after you hang up your suit.

But with those perceived “losses” comes an overwhelming return. Some of the awesomeness is apparent while you are competing still; the camaraderie  getting out of an exam because you are away for a meet, being the only kid in school with a six pack.

Other stuff will take some time to appreciate. It will come to you slowly, deeply, and at times very unexpectedly.

Years later you will look back on your swimming days with a sense of nostalgia. Here are five ways that swimming will continue to influence your life down the road—

1. You’re part of an amazing community.

We are separated by a few degrees of separation. It’s a big, open fraternity, but even better as we all have the shared background of two-a-days and countless weekends in poorly ventilated pools. This community extends far beyond the pool, as you will see in the years to come.

Even ten years removed from competitive swimming I can go to a local meet and find a few familiar faces in coaches, and the younger siblings of friends and people I’d raced against. Even some of the officials remain, having stuck with the sport even long after their own kids had moved on. The next generation and the longevity of those who have no commitment to the sport outside of their love for it, and this is a testament to the bond we grow with this sport.

2. Exercise and Fitness will never intimidate you.

This is something you probably already know. You’ve gone through your share of Hell Weeks, and New Years Day 10×1000’s to not bat an eye at any physical challenge. Swimmers have ridiculous cardiovascular fitness, and as such when athletes from other sports complained about their workouts the gripes typically fall on deaf ears.

3. That discipline and mental toughness you honed as a swimmer will serve you well.

You will enjoy not having to get up at 4:30am for morning practice long after you leave the arena of competitive swimming. This I can promise you. But the discipline that got you up that early will always be within you, ready to be seized upon when you find something else you are passionate about.

4. ‘What if’ Syndrome will pop up when the Olympics roll around.

I get this to the point I can barely enjoy watching swimming events that used to be my forte. Thoughts like “If my shoulder hadn’t crapped out…” bubble to the surface. Avoid this passing sense of regret by leaving everything at the pool so that you aren’t watching the Olympics ten years later wondering if you could get into good enough shape to swim in Rio in 2016. Regardless of the expectations you have for your swimming career, whether it’s going to the Olympics, getting a scholarship to your local college team, or just making this summer’s traveling squad, embrace the opportunities for travel, competition and camaraderie that swimming provides.

5. The pool will always be home.

You will always be a swimmer. People play basketball, play football or hockey, but you are a swimmer. It’s a sport that most people don’t understand or appreciate until the Olympics roll around, and that’s fine. Let them have their sports, for swimming will always be profoundly ours.

It will belong to the age-groupers struggling to get that first cut. To the teenagers trying to get noticed by a university program. To the athletes competing at the Olympics just happy to be there. From age grouper to World Record holder the sport all belongs to us, and while we may throw a “every other sport gets all the attention” tantrum in once in a while, in a lot of ways we should be happy with our place on the sporting totem pole.

To this day swimming still feels “mine,” as impossible of a feeling that may come across as. The quietness of the pool, the stillness of an empty lane, the quiet stare of that black line, will always be mine. Yours. Ours.

About YourSwimBook

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.

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7 years ago

this is so thrue I nearly cried when I read this because I absolutly knew all of this points!

Amanda Smith
7 years ago

What a great article. #5 literally gave me chills it was so dead on.

7 years ago

Great essay, thanks! Re: #3, even during times I’ve stumbled in life, I’ve always found my way back to the pool to look for that discipline and toughness that I know will always be deep down there in me somewhere. #4: I’ve never had a time that I didn’t enjoy watching the Olympics, because I’ve never thought about it, but I guess my “What If” would be “What if I hadn’t peaked at age 12?” 😉 I was already over it by the time the next Olympics rolled around when I was 16. One of my life highlights and best vacations ever was watching the ’04 Olympic Trials in Long Beach. And I’m still in touch with all my childhood/high… Read more »

Reply to  liquidassets
7 years ago

“While there are always exceptions, in general I would say that in a sometimes confusing and rapidly-changing world, there is usually something very grounding and trustworthy about other swimmers.”

Couldn’t agree more.

About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy has been involved in competitive swimming for most of his life. Starting off at the age of 6 he was thrown in the water at the local pool for swim lessons and since then has never wanted to get out. A nationally top ranked age grouper as both a …

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