by Lindsey Fano
Ask any swimmer, swimming will teach you lifelong lessons. Anyone who has put in time in the pool can tell you how repeating laps teaches you perseverance, morning practice instils an unparalleled dedication, and hard work is required to succeed. I’ve been swimming since age 6 and it’s taken me some time to understand and appreciate how the lessons I have learned in the pool translate to life outside the pool. As my swimming journey has progressed I have become increasingly grateful for what swimming has given back to me. However, like many other senior collegiate swimmers, my swimming career just came to a screeching halt. I have swum my last race, stood on the podium one final time, and hung up my fastsuit probably for good. On my journey to define myself without swimming, I realized that even in its absence swimming is still teaching me. Having to adjust, cope with, and get used to the end of something that was such a huge part of my life is one of the most challenging things I’ve done. But, as I’ve learned, it is through challenges that we learn and grow stronger.
Swimming ending has taught me about the depth of my passion. It’s challenging to move on because I cared so much for what I was doing. It’s pretty amazing to reflect on 16 years and know I devoted my time and talent to something I absolutely loved.
Swimming ending has helped me accept change. Life doesn’t revolve around my practice schedule and that’s ok. Change, big life-altering change, is inevitable and it’s challenging to adjust. The end of my swimming career has given me the opportunity to acknowledge change and prepare myself for changes in my future.
Swimming ending has made me realize how important it is to appreciate everything. Yes, some swim practices were terrible but now I would go back to them in a heartbeat. Everything eventually comes to an end so take a moment and be grateful for the opportunities and challenges that surround you. There’s a saying that goes “Enjoy the little things in life for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things”. I couldn’t agree more.
Swimming ending has taught me that team is forever. Even though I am no longer formally on a team, I know that my teammates from all the various teams of my life will always hold a special place in my heart and they will be there for me whenever I need it.
Most importantly, swimming ending has taught me that I will always be a swimmer. Even though I may not be training insane amounts every day and I will never squeeze my body into a fastsuit, I am still a swimmer. The water will always be a place for me to escape from the real world, clear my mind, and push my limits. The black line will always be there. I am still a swimmer because I love to coach. I follow meet results obsessively. I love to share my favorite sport with anyone who will listen. Swimming is taking on a new meaning to me but through and through I am still a swimmer.
When my college swimming career ended, I felt empty, like I had lost a huge piece of myself. In a way I did, but I should have had more faith in the sport that has given me so much. With the help of some good friends and coaches I have come to realize that even in its absence swimming is still teaching me. That’s pretty incredible. So thank you swimming, for everything.