Courtesy of Donna Hale
Swimming is one of the most demanding sports in the world. Every parent and swimmer know this all to well. It can be frustrating, exhausting and some days just plain hard on your emotions. People who don’t work as hard can get rewards. Some are just gifted. Illness and injury can cause setbacks. The moments of pure joy can feel like they are some place far in the future. Motivation to return to the grind day after day may feel like it is hard to come by. It is easy to write about the joys of this sport and the success.
But, how do you keep it going day in and day out when it may seem like the only one who believes in you is yourself? The answer is profoundly simple. And it’s one that truly dedicated and committed athletes learn for themselves.
Greatness is found within. The greatest athletes find the will and desire to move forward from their hearts. Their love for the sport trumps everything. They know that it is not easy. It is not fair. And it is only possible to be your own best with a heartfelt determination and blind leap of faith that the doubles, commitment to practice, and swimming through the sports hardest moments will lead to excellence — not only in the pool but in life. In other words they know that they have what it takes. They have what matters most. Determination. Determination is the power to not only dream but to overcome anything and everything to reach your potential.
The media loves to attack athletes when they make mistakes as if somehow exceptional sport talent makes someone super human. I’ve been a swim parent all my life. And I can guarantee you one thing. Failure, disappointment, regret — they teach your swimmer lessons they won’t soon forget. These build not only good swimmers, but great people.
The greatest trait your athlete can learn is resilience. This can manifest itself in many ways. Believing in yourself when it seems like no one does. Working hard even though other factors in your life might be difficult and even painful. Realizing that no one can derail your road to success unless you give them permission.
It’s all about what matters most.
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.