Courtesy: Donna Hale
There is a wonderful saying that pops up this time of year around graduations. It goes something like this: “Embrace and Live the Dreams That Set Your Soul on Fire.” For many of you on this blog, swimming has been that kind of passion, a burning desire that has taught you lessons far beyond how to master a flip turn or perfect your butterfly. For some of you, this may be the end of the journey. Others will take part in Masters, coach a team, and maybe one day instill the love of this sport in your own children. I do know that you will take memories and lessons with you that go far beyond the lane lines. These are the gifts you will treasure a lifetime through. Here are just a few:
Swimming is what you do and not who you are. Remember this. While it is great to win a title, set a record, and experience success, these all pale by comparison to what swimming does for your character. Swimming a lifetime – at least to seniors – not only helps to develop character it also reveals it. How you lose is just as important as how you win. The way you treat your opponents and every member of your team from the fastest to the ones who struggle tells the world so much about who you are. And in this lifetime, nothing matters more; be a person of kindness, gratitude, and humility.
Savor every moment from the silliest to the serious. You do not get a “do over” so make your moments count. I saw a great saying on a recent grad photo: “the days move slowly but the years fly by.” COVID has driven this home loud and clear. And it has brought a shining light on how much the small things really are the big things after all. You never know when these moments will be a memory so make everything count. EVERYTHING.
Appreciate the opportunities. For those of you who swim and compete at the college level, you are blessed and lucky. Be grateful and humble to wear the title student athlete. It is privilege and an honor. Do not squander this. You have a responsibility to give it your all and when it is your time, to pass it on. Your teammates and opponents are watching you. Be sure you are a good teacher. Leave a legacy so powerful that they will never forget you. Work hard and do your best. But most of all, be kind and supportive. Be a champion of the things that matter; hard work, good sportsmanship, and fiery passion.
Laugh so hard that you cry. Nothing is worth doing in this life that does not bring you amazing joy. Everyone knows that swimming is hard work. This is a given. But at the end of the day, do what you love and love what you do. Laughter nurtures your mental health. I know this one from long experience. Keep smiling and be grateful.
Listen to your heart. It is very true that your heart already knows what you want to do in this life, and it will seldom fail you. There will come a time when you might wonder what you should do next, and what you should strive for. Maybe it is happening how. The best advice I have seen is still: “Embrace and Live the Dreams That Set Your Soul on Fire.” If you are reading this and an getting ready to start a new journey – whether it is in the pool, workplace or community, happiness indeed is about the moments of the journey. Moments are better if you do what you love and love what your do. You Never Know Who You Might Inspire!
Donna Hale has been a swim mom for 18 years. Her daughter swam in the NCAA, Club, Summer and High School.