SwimSwam welcomes reader submissions about all topics aquatic, and if it’s well-written and well-thought, we might just post it under our “Shouts from the Stands” series. We don’t necessarily endorse the content of the Shouts from the Stands posts, and the opinions remain those of their authors. If you have thoughts to share, please send [email protected]
This “Shouts from the Stands” submission comes from Robert ‘Berto’ Barrett, a former University of Denver swimmer.
Here it is. The last race of your career. Everything you have done for the past ten to twenty years culminates in this last, glorious display of your talents. Less than two minutes or so separate you from your life as a “swammer” or a “normal college student.” Certainly you’ll hit a best time, right? Though, maybe, that is not what you should be focused on.
The last race is epic don’t get me wrong. I have seen swimmers have out-of-their-minds, lights-out, crushing-their-personal-best type swims. I have also seen swimmers add three second on a last race, get disqualified, or, more commonly, have a decent swim. That is where I fell in.
My last race, a 200 breaststroke at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championships, I added about a half a second. My best time would have won the race, however, I settled nicely into third place. I pushed myself as well as my body could on the last day of conference championships, and the result was all it could give me. Two things were immediately relevant to me as I hit the wall: 1.) I was done swimming and 2.) I was okay with my last race.
So much pressure is put on the “last” thing we do. Whether it is saying goodbye to co-workers when leaving a job, or playing in your last game. We want what we do to be meaningful and have a lasting impact on those to come after us. The important thing to remember is; your legacy or career is not dependent on how well you perform in your last competition.
By the time you step on deck at your last meet, your legacy has already been all but cemented. Whether you were the hardest working in the pool, or simply made your teammates laugh during the difficult sets, people will remember you for your ENTIRE body of work.
So, relax, enjoy it, and take it all in. The last race is a special time indeed, don’t get me wrong. You have earned this moment. The work you have put in over the past decade or two speaks for itself. Again, people will remember what kind of swimmer you were, not how well you performed in your last race. No pressure and good luck to you, realize, this is your last race of your career. Please, go out there and have some fun.
About Robert Barrett
Robert “Berto” Barrett was a swimmer for Scottsdale Aquatic Club, then the University of Denver (2009-2013), where he was a team captain for his senior season. Berto is now lives in Denver, CO and is a middle school special education teacher and athletic director at STRIVE Prep-Federal.