On June 20th, 2013 my family sat in shock as an emergency room nurse broke the news that my Dad had passed away. It was as if the ground had been swept from under our feet, and we all had to find a way to carry on missing a huge piece of our lives.
At the time I was 16, and swimming was the forefront of my priorities. However, of all the things that seemed impossible to do after losing my dad, swimming was at the top of the list. Something that had previously carried so much love and worth suddenly felt insignificant, draining all motivation to get back in the water. I no longer found a purpose in the sport. So after several failed attempts at completing a practice without breaking down, I decided that I wanted to quit. While spending the rest of the summer away from the pool, I eventually came to terms with the fact that my dad would’ve never wanted me to give up something that I love. So once school started back up, I decided to try again. As I gradually worked my way back into the sport, swimming slowly started to become my getaway. This dramatic transition was thanks to my teammate sharing his “10-minute rule”.
There were times during practice where something would trigger my thoughts to spiral back to that summer, and I would either end up on the pool deck venting to my coach or heading out the door. He told me that when those moments came to go into the locker room and take 10 minutes to let it all out, then when I was ready, come back out and get back to work. My “10-minute rule” routine on days that I was struggling was: getting out, sitting in the shower, crying/yelling/whatever I needed to do, and then walking back out (goggles on of course) and finishing the practice. Over time, I worked my way up to where I didn’t need the 10-minute rule anymore. Swimming for my dad became the sole purpose of why I dove into the water everyday, and once I realized my personal goals, I buried myself into the training. Anytime I was in the pool, pretending that the set on the board was my only worry was the best distraction from reality.
So with the combination of my coach, family, friends, and the famous “10-minute rule” the sport I almost gave up became the only reason I was able to make it through losing my dad. I’m not sure where I would be without swimming, but everyday I’m thankful that I didn’t allow myself to fall victim to the grief and quit. To this day, this sport has continued to bring incredible people and opportunities into my life that would have otherwise never happened.
The best advice I could give anyone who is struggling to come back to this sport after losing someone they love would be: 1. Never be afraid to ask for help. 2. Always be honest when someone asks you how you’re doing. 3. Don’t give up until you try the 10-minute rule.