Courtesy: Molly McMahon
Why do I swim? This is the question I have asked myself as I transition away from the competitive life of swimming and reflect on my swim journey.
At 7, it was for the donut Fridays and to meet new friends.
At 9, it was for the January bus trips, mid meet shopping sprees and late night hotel room parties.
At 12, it was to try to be part of the “fast kids” to qualify for the 12 and under state meet.
At 15, it was to be a part of a group when entering high school so I would always have someone to eat lunch with and feel like I belonged.
At 18, it was because a college coach believed in my abilities to swim for his team at the collegiate level and I wanted to be as prepared as possible
At 20, it was to encourage and motivate myself and my teammates to be the best WE could be, working towards both individual and team goals.
At 22, it was to finish my competitive swim career well, surrounded by amazing teammates and coaches and help our team reach our full potential
And now at 23, what is my why? It no longer is for a donut, or to swim faster at the end of the year. It is not for those weekend get-a-ways where swimming was all we had to think about. So why do I still swim?
At the present moment, I swim because it is part of my identity that I am not willing to lose anytime soon. I swim because the sport has given so much to me and I want to attempt to give back through coaching the next generation of swimmers to learn to love the sport as much as I do. I swim because it has shaped me into who I am today and makes me a better person.
Maybe you are also at a time in your life where swimming is not what it used to be. Maybe you are stepping away from the sport after a great high school finish, or a collegiate championship meet. Maybe you are transitioning from athlete to coach, or competitive swimmer to leisure floater or high school swimmer to collegiate athlete. Maybe you have coached for years and years and decided it’s time to hang up the whistle. Whatever it may be, swimming played a role in your life and served a unique purpose, fulfilling your why whether you knew it at the time or not. Although the sport may not play the same position it once did, it does not take away from the great memories and lessons you have learned. They will stay with you no matter what stage of life you are in! So, next time you are thinking about swimming, about to coach or hop in the pool for a challenging workout, remember your WHY!
Molly swam collegiately for Saint Catherine University in St Paul, Minn., for five seasons, from 2017 until 2021. She is currently in her final year of the doctorate of physical therapy program at St Kate’s and is set to graduate in May 2023.