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

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6 years ago

All…it’s more than just the pool, it is all water. There’s something about the sound of streams, rivers, the waves of the ocean that are calming.

Baudelaire wrote:

Homme libre, toujours tu chériras la mer!
La mer est ton miroir; tu contemples ton âme
Dans le déroulement infini de sa lame…

Free man, you will always cherish the sea!
The sea is your mirror; you contemplate your soul
In the infinite unrolling of its billows…

Of course, it might also have something to do with the fact that we’re all forever chlorinated.

7 years ago

Perfect points. And, yes…I was back in the pool the day after I was out of the hospital…fell off a horse and broke my sacrum…no one but my swimming pals got it! Couldn’t kick, but I could pull! I needed the black line!

8 years ago

Your article sums up why as a swim mom for 8 years now, I continue to support and encourage both my kids to continue being their best in and out of the pool. Even if that means I sacrifice personally more than I could have ever imagined possible since I was never a swimmer myself. Even if that means I get up at 4am so my boys can be at the pool at 5am for morning workout before school. Even if that means I drive 3K miles a month to schools and pools in order for them to be swimmers. Even if that means I spend almost every Saturday and Sunday at a pool all day for meets since they… Read more »

Reply to  SwimMom
7 years ago

I’ve always thought they should leave a lane open for swim parents who drive too far to go home between the start and end of practice. Shouldn’t they be able to appreciate the joys of swimming, since they’re there anyway? (Fortunately, we’ve never lived further from 10 minutes away from their main pool.)

Reply to  SwimMom
7 years ago

I agree whole heartedly. I’ve found that the swim community is probably one of the most supportive of each of it’s members; be it swimmer, coach or official. I’ve never met a more friendly group of people. We’ve made friends in the four states we’ve been fortunate to swim in due to our geographic location. I love being a swim mom and a swim coach. I now find it difficult having a down weekend where we’re not on the road to a meet, some of which require an eight hour drive one way. People think we’re nuts for all the time and money we’ve invested but when I see my son and my swim kids smiling because they posted a… Read more »

8 years ago

So much of that is true even if you never competed or if you started swimming late in life. I love water and I always will.

9 years ago

So true!

Seth van Neerden
9 years ago

All are true when you spend your lifetime in swimming!

9 years ago

I still swim Master’s and I know I always will – it’s that much a part of me! A few weeks ago our group couldn’t swim at our home pool and had to go to another one to practice. When we left the lifeguard said “You guys are insane!”

9 years ago

What a fantastic article. I love the sport with my soul. I only wish some of my college athletes had the same appreciation. Hoping one day they will… It is a passion that will forever be with me.

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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