Courtesy of Donna Hale
It’s a great time to reflect on what you’re leaving behind and what lies ahead.
In my swim family, it has been a tough year. Injury in the summer. A concussion at school. And a nice case of bronchitis to close the year. Looking back this may truly be the most blessed year of my swimmer’s long career. In her 12 plus years in the pool, this is the year she has learned the most. I’ve learned the most too. When things are going great,meets are awesome and every swim is better than the next, it is easy to stay dedicated and passionate about swimming.
The real test of a swimmers’ love for the sport comes when you have to keep fighting no matter what. Twice-weekly physical therapy sessions, feeling like your head might explode from the fall you took from a classmates’ not so gentle push, and that much awaited short taper topped off with a head cold. They test what you are made off.
Here a few real world lessons you learn during setbacks.
How much do you want it — to be your best?
Does your love of swimming override everything it takes? Setbacks happen to every day athletes and decorated Olympians. Can you look these harder times straight in the face and say with confidence: You’re not stopping me.
Teammates are the sport’s greatest treasure.
You are there for them. Rest assured they’ll return the favor. And you share a part in each other’s success. You cannot understand this unbreakable bond if you’re not part of it. It is the greatest gift of this sport. My daughter got to be part of some amazing moments of success with treasured teammates who been through their own shares of struggles. Swimming bonds last a lifetime.
Anything worth achieving requires sacrifices and hard choices.
This is especially true in a demanding sport like swimming. Can you give it your all for a payoff that may not materialize for months? In other words, are you willing to embrace the process? It can be bittersweet. But you’ll grow in ways you never imagined.
You must believe.
These words sound so wonderful. But they must be felt in your heart and embedded in your soul. Believe in yourself, your work ethic and your coaches. Success is measured by how you deal with obstacles, pain, pressure and outright disappointment. This defines you You gotta have the heart.
My daughter has said many times that this sport chooses you. She’s right. I’ve seen many athletes walk away after a tough season. But if you’re lured by the deep blue waters, addicted to chlorine, and can’t imagine life without soggy towels, marathon naps, and never ending pasta bowls, you’re likely a lifer.
You will succeed.
You will fail.
And through it all you’ll realize with every practice, you’re part of a new beginning.
Donna Hale has been a swim mom for 12 years as well as executive of several nonprofit organizations. She volunteers regularly for her daughter Hannah’s USA Team The Potomac Marlins, summer team Burke Station Destroyers, and Lake Braddock Swim and Dive Bruins.