Thanks to Gavin Cooley for contributing this story.
Recently I made the decision to switch swim clubs. This was a very difficult process for me, and I don’t wish to dwell on it very much. Out of respect for the club I moved from and the people there who helped me grow as a swimmer and as a person, I won’t discuss specifics in the circumstances that led up to my departure. Instead, I will explain how making a change in your life can be the best decision you make.
Swimming has been a colossal influence in my life. There were days over summer break where I would come home from practice, get on YouTube, and watch films of Michael Phelps’, or Ryan Lochte’s, or Jack Conger’s races. Then, I would go back to practice. I lived, breathed, ate, and slept swimming. I checked this very website up to ten times a day.
The closest thing I can liken my obsession with swimming to is an addiction. Like most addictions, it quickly became unhealthy. I was overly concerned with my times. I would underperform in races because, ironically, I was afraid to fail. In the winter, my practices were physically deprecating. I frequently got cramps in my legs in the middle of our main set, and in the past few years I commonly got sick just a few weeks before my championship meet. Reflecting on my experiences now, I can see that I was overworking my body and didn’t eat enough to refuel my immune system. Eventually, as might be expected when performances are subpar and health is inconsistent, I was unhappy with the sport. I contemplated quitting. This wasn’t an acceptable solution for me, so I stuck with this beautiful sport.
At this point I feel a reminder is necessary. Many specific events happened that I wish to not discuss to the general public. While I greatly enjoyed my time with my previous team, and learned a great deal, it was also very stressful for me. I spent a lot of time in the car just to get to the pool, and the loss of time because of this led to numerous problems. The primary problem was that I couldn’t get enough sleep. I got home later and had to wake up earlier than my other teammates since I lived farther away. In addition to sleep deprivation, many of my meals were rushed so I could try to get as much sleep as I could.
I needed a big change if I wanted to be able to love swimming again, so I left. I switched to the swim team based in my hometown, where the pool was a two-minute walk from my classes. Not only could I get up to an hour and a half more sleep at night, but I could also eat regular meals throughout the day that were helpful in my recovery.
The transition made me contemplate many things about this wonderful sport and what role I want it to play in my life. This is what I have come to terms with. No, I may not be the next Michael Phelps or Mark Spitz. I am perfectly okay with that. I may never be an Olympian, a National Champion, or even a National level meet qualifier. The one way I know that I will NEVER reach any of my goals is if I am not enjoying what I am doing or the journey to achieving my dreams.
This is the challenge I will leave you with. Whether it’s at swim practice, when you’re working, or when you are at home with your family, you should enjoy every minute of it. While everyone is annoyed or frustrated occasionally, it is not normal to not enjoy your life. If you find that you are consistently aggravated, make a change. Don’t be afraid of moving on to bigger and better things. The best time of your life could be just around the corner, so long as you aren’t afraid of leaving what you are now. Change who you are now, and what you become from there is up to you.