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 Krista Duffield:
I have come to love my swimmer body and what it has done for me over these years. I could not be more blessed with all of the opportunities that my body has given me, but six years ago it was very hard for me to see it that way. It was hard for me to love my muscles, hard for me not to compare my size to others, and hard to realize how beautiful I actually was.
When I was a junior in high school I looked around and all of my friends were smaller than me. My height made me tower over them, and my shoulders felt twice as big, as I am sure many of you can relate. I was extremely self-conscious in how strong and big I was and I decided I was going to do something about it. They say hindsight is 20-20, and I can say now that I basically starved myself for 6 months, losing in too much weight for my already slim frame. Each week wanting to weigh less and less. However, if you were to ask me then I would of said I was “eating healthy”. I finally looked the way I wanted. I had no shoulders anymore, lost all of my muscle, and had a thigh-gap (why did I ever want this?? I have no clue), when in reality I looked sick, too skinny, and weak.
During this time I had lots of tear filled talks with my club coach, more with my mother, and even more with a professional female swimmer that helped out with my club team. All of these people cared about me and were trying to get me to see the harm I was doing to my body and the way I was disrespecting the gift that was given to me in my big shoulders and strong legs. I told myself that they didn’t get it. They didn’t understand and that I would still swim fast at the end of the season.
So lo and behold I went to NCSA juniors that spring and swam the worst I have ever swam. I was devastated. In my naïve young mind I thought that I could still swim fast no matter how much muscle I lost or how skinny I became. After swimming that slow, what all of these people were trying to tell me finally stuck. I was digging myself in a hole that would soon consume me and eventually prohibit me from doing one of the few things that I loved, racing.
After NCSAs it was a long journey to get to where I am today. Eventually I transitioned from horrified to happy when I would get on the scale, and weight really just started to be a tool that I knew I would swim my fastest in this certain range. I started to feel proud of the muscles I had from all those laps in the pool.
Looking back I cannot believe how I was swept up into the delusion that my body was not beautiful, that my strong shoulders were not something to be proud of. That my height was not something that I would be so thankful for later because it helped me become the swimmer I am today. I hope that since I struggled through this maybe I can help someone who is going though the same thing. There is so much that makes swimmers unique and our bodies are one of them. Please treasure your body and love how strong you are because I promise it is not worth trying to be like everybody else.