Shouts From the Stands: The Training Epiphany – A Motivational Story

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 Reef Ide, a 17-year-old swimmer from Florida.

My four o’clock alarm blares from across the room. Moved from its former place on my nightstand, I now have to get out of my warm cozy bed to turn off its incessant waking tone. The move has served its purpose, though, because now I’m up and there’s no excuse for not going to morning practice.

The thought of the cold pool isn’t pleasant, and instantly the negotiations begin. My mind is flooded with thoughts saying, “If I just get in the water it won’t be so bad” and “I’ll just make it through the practice, then take a hot shower and go back to sleep.” The only good part of all this self-negotiating is that it leaves no room for my foggy morning brain to create an excuse to miss practice. Before I know it, I’m walking onto the pool deck with my suit, towel, and bag. Next the goggles are on, the gear is placed at the gutter of my lane, and only one thought remains, “Just get through the practice.” And with that, the top rolls around on the clock and I dive in.

It was the type of warm up that butters you up for a hard set like a cheesy roll at Red Lobster; teasing me with its ease and deliciousness but making me wary of going too hard and filling up before the main course. So, I conserved my energy and only put in enough effort to get through. Soon warm up was over and, as soon as I hit the wall after my last 25 variable speed, I knew that this was going to be “one of those practices.” You know, the ones where you don’t want to be there, you aren’t feeling like you can get up and sprint, and you just want to get through the practice. Thirty seconds later the rest of the team was on the wall and listening to Coach explain the main set. It didn’t look too bad — aside from all the sprinting that I wasn’t in the mood to do. Everyone seemed happy with the set and its low yardage until coach really dropped the bomb on us. He didn’t even have to say anything, all he needed to do was put brackets around the whole set and write, “2x” on his whiteboard. Instantly our spirits faded and the thought, “just get through the practice” re-emerged to the forefront of my brain.

We swam hard with the first part of the set giving us just enough rest to catch our breath, reset, and push off for the next part. I was about a quarter of the way done with the set when I realized that I might not get through this practice. The sprints were hard and fast, the rest was short, and there was no room to “just get through.” That was when I had the epiphany which changed how I trained forever. You see, nobody wants to wake up at four in the morning to dive into the freezing cold pool and train as hard as they can. That duo of dedication and effort is hard to come by for 99% of the world, but this morning I realized that I already had half of the equation (dedication) just by showing up. All I needed to do was put in the effort and not “just get through,” but surpass what my limitations were and go to the edge. A new thought entered my brain, “I’m not getting out of it, so I might as well get in it.”

I dug deep. I pushed hard. I gave it everything I had. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t fun, it wasn’t easy, but that morning I achieved a small victory in pursuit of being the best swimmer, athlete, and person that I could be. Swimming isn’t just a sport. It’s a personal challenge with every set you face. As Terry Bradshaw once stated, “When you’ve got something to prove, there’s nothing greater than a challenge.” I got through that practice and I destroyed every part of the set. Doing just enough is not enough to achieve your goals. Sometimes, you’ve got to forget about how you feel, forget about how much that moment or set might suck, and prove to yourself that you can defeat the challenge in front of you. Get after it and stop “Just getting through.” You are capable of so much more and all it takes is that mentality to complete your equation for success. If you have ever showed up to a practice like that, you are halfway there. Now, get after it instead of just getting through it and prove something to yourself by defeating the challenge (the set/practice) in front of you.

About Reef Ide

My name is Reef Ide. I am a seventeen-year-old swimmer from Florida who swims on the Windermere Lakers team. I have been swimming since I was four-years-old, and my two favorite races are the 200 freestyle and the 100 fly. I am also the president of my school’s Beta Club, a Cadet Captain in the Civil Air Patrol, a tap dancer, pianist, cyclist, and straight A student. I love a good challenge and am ambitious in achieving my goals.

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Jeremy Ide
1 year ago

I’m so proud of the gentleman he has become. Not only does Reef IDE continue to achieve great things but he has an understanding for the necessary underlying foundation of hard work. He lives the acronym of his last name. I – Intensity, D – Discipline, E – Effort.
– Dad