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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
This “Shouts from the Stands” submission comes from Ragen Engel
The idea of performance is applicable to nearly any event in human nature. As I’m not a very theatrical individual, it was easier for me to understand this concept from an athletic standpoint. I have come to see the sport of swimming as a performance. The pool is our stage. The locker room is our dressing room where we transform our roles from student to athlete. We dress in our swim caps, swim suits, goggles, and warm ups. Our team, or cast, prepares for the big performance, our championship meet, through countless hours of training. We’ve received coaching feedback, mastered our technique, and now it’s time to forget and just play. The little details that we’ve practiced should come as second nature to us. We have built up the banks of the river, and now we must swim in it. No longer is our body of water an endless swamp. It is now a river that will take us in the direction towards our goals.
Even though goals are important, true success comes when one is “doing without being too attached to the outcome, because doing is its own outcome,” (Nachmanovitch, 19). We’ve placed our trust in the creative process. As we step out onto the blocks, the wings of our great stage, we must “let go of some impediment or fear” (Nachmanovitch, 11). Equipped with months of practiced technique, it is now time to improvise.
Performances aren’t perfectly structured. Actors and swimmers alike face moments of adversity. We take risks as we “give up our expectations and a certain degree of control” (Nachmanovitch, 21). Perhaps we don’t know if this performance will end in a standing ovation or a victory over the opposing team. In the end, we will never forget the sense of family that we’ve acquired along the way and the reason why we perform.
My name is Ragen Engel and I swim for The University of Akron. In preparation for the end of the season and the upcoming championships, I wrote this reflection about what it means to perform on a division I collegiate level.
Nachmanovitch, Stephen. Free Play. New York: Stephen Nachmanovitch, 1990. Print.