A Swimmer’s Mentality: The Inner Thoughts of a Collegiate Swimmer

Colin Babcock, a senior on the men’s swim team at the University of Notre Dame, was asked to produce a video for his film photography class. The video features the Notre Dame men’s swim team and describes what it means to be a swimmer. Babcock’s goal was for everyone to be able to step into the inner thoughts of collegiate swimmers reflecting on the sport that has defined their lives for years.

Notre Dame is preparing themselves for the ACC Championships which start on Feb. 26th in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Irish are predicted to finish within the top half of the ACC.

“I really wanted to find a way to capture the drive, emotions, and utter insanity of swimmers in 3 minutes. Although it has Notre Dame swimmers in it, this video was made for anyone who has ever experienced the sport. Essentially, this video is my tribute to the sport that has shaped who I am today. In terms of ACCs, We are excited for our first championship in this very talented, deep, and competitive conference and we are ready to step up to the next level of competition!” – Colin Babcock

They say a man can go three days without water to survive. 

Clearly they have never met a swimmer.

Albert Einstein was quoted by saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. 

Well I guess you can call us crazy.

Every morning, we get up at 5am to jump in a cold pool and then look at a black line for miles. And with this repetition comes progress.

We push ourselves every day trying to get better. 

We reek of chlorine, our hair is fried, and we couldn’t be happier about that. 

There is no fame in swimming. In the grand scheme of things, your greatest accomplishments in the sport go unnoticed by even your closest friends.

There is no money or professional league in swimming. 

Just you and the pool.

That being said, swimmers are not driven by external motivation. In fact, you cannot swim unless you are fueled by the strongest internal motivation. When that alarm goes off in the morning, you pull yourself out of bed because you know that your work today will pay off in the future. You know that all the sweat and tears will be worth it. 

They don’t make movies about swimming. You don’t read about swimming in the newspapers. And, unless its an Olympic year, some don’t even consider swimming a sport. 

Clearly they have never witnessed it before.

Why do we do this? Why do we put ourselves agonizing practices day in and day out just for one big meet a year? We do this for ourselves. We do this because this is who we are. Swimming is not just a sport for us, it is a way of life. We are the most disciplined, time oriented people you will ever meet in your life. If there is a crossroads, we always take the path with most resistance. We look for hard work, not run away from it. 

We are a unique breed of human. 

Those who consider swimming an individual sport have never done it before. When you race, you know you are doing it for more than yourself, you are doing it for your whole team. With each stroke, you carry the weight of 30 other guys as you strive to be the first to the wall, and that weight is a burden you couldn’t imagine your life without. 

After we have swum thousands of laps for hundreds of hours of our year, we race for only a few minutes. We hear the buzzer go off, and we pour our heart and soul into that race knowing that every morning practice, every grueling weight session, every social event we sacrificed, was worth it. 

As we push our bodies to the point of complete exhaustion, we sprint to the wall. You’re not just racing the person next to you, you are racing the clock, which represents more than just time, it represents generations of swimmers who have 
already done what you are doing now and it represents the next wave of racers that will come after you. 

You see the wall approaching, you hold your breath, you give every ounce of energy you have left in your body. You give one last lunge and look back at the clock. 

And then its over. 

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Sharon Barrows
6 years ago

Colin you did an incredible job with this three minute video. You deserve an A+ from your professor.
Kudos to you and best of luck and succes to UND at NCAA. May the Fighting Irish come out on top.
Thanks swimswam for sharing this masterpiece.

Steve Nolan
6 years ago

That was pretty good! (Once I stopped groaning at the opening line about water & the misattributed Einstein quote.)

Reply to  Steve Nolan
6 years ago

Hmmm…seems as though you haven’t stopped groaning.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Ben
6 years ago

It was a really poor opening, what can I say.

(I really hate things that start with the hackneyed, “Webster’s dictionary defines…” so this was really gonna grind my gears, haha.)

Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggggghhhhhhhhh here I am groaning still.

6 years ago

Awesome. Loved it. So glad you’ve now got a lifetime of mornings ahead of you once you graduate — http://www.usms.org 😉

About Tony Carroll

Tony Carroll

The writer formerly known as "Troy Gennaro", better known as Tony Carroll, has been working with SwimSwam since April of 2013. Tony grew up in northern Indiana and started swimming in 2003 when his dad forced him to join the local swim team. Reluctantly, he joined on the condition that …

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