In some ways swimming can be a thankless sport. You grind away in your own lane, putting in the time and effort only to be outshone by a quarterback who made a heroic Hail Mary pass or a basketball star who scored the winning basket.
Our sport is one in which you have to claim the day-to-day victories to stay motivated. We need to capture the winning moments that transpire all around the pool to keep us going in the dead of winter or when things don’t seem to be going our way. We need to hold on to the ‘Badges of Honor’ our sport offers, sometimes under the radar, that make us persist, pursue and excel on a physical and mental level.
Swimming’s Badges of Honor
#1 – Going a Best Time
That feeling of looking up at the clock and recognizing that you’ve gone faster in an event than you’ve ever gone before. So maybe it’s not a sectional cut. So maybe it wasn’t first place. Bottom line, YOU got better. YOU made progress and you WILL do it again.
#2 – Getting Up Early
You may not think so at the time your alarm is blaring, but be proud of yourself every time you get up at the crack of dawn to dive into a cold pool of water. Does your neighbor do this? No. Does the cool kid in your algebra class do this? No. YOU and YOUR TEAM are the ones making the sacrifice every day in the name of excellence, so wear your early-morning face as a badge of honor, and use it as a chance to bond with your squad.
#3 – Knowing You Gave it Your All
Practicing when you have a cold is tough. Gritting your way through a minor injury can be grueling. Going to bed exhausted only to wake up and do it again the next morning can give you nightmares…..but also a strange satisfaction. Knowing you have given your best at practice, for your teammates, for your coaches, for your parents, but, most importantly, for yourself can be the badge of honor you wear to get you through the especially difficult days. Don’t shy away from opportunities to do something better than you did before. Your future self will thank you.
#4 – Saying, “I Can’t, I Have Swim Practice”
Your friends are used to hearing this excuse when you have to decline a party invitation or late-night adventure, but in the end they understand. And, they respect it. Your repeat answer of “I can’t, I have swim practice” can be seen as a source of pride, a beacon of distinction that sets you apart from the average athlete. The next time you have to say, “I can’t, I have swim practice”, view it as an homage to discipline and sacrifice; putting money in the bank you’ll eventually withdraw in spades when it counts.
#5 – Making Lifelong Friendships
You can’t explain it most of the time, but you and your teammates just get each other; you just click. You’re an aquatic family that has a bond shared through blood, sweat and chlorine-filled tears. Your entire base of swimming friendships is a badge of honor, a reason to keep going to practice, put forth a solid effort and continue striving to do something together.