Courtesy of Sam Angelo
Today as I sat on a mostly empty beach working my summer job I wondered to myself “How did a kid from Northeastern Ohio end up getting paid good money to sit in the sun all day on the beach in North Carolina?” The more I pondered it, the more apparent the answer became: it is thanks to swimming. Often the adverse effects that swimming has on our lives are overlooked and we find ourselves wondering if it is all worth it. While some of the best swimmers in the world do not get to enjoy the glory or praise given to the average basketball or football player, I believe there is a lot to be gained by spending countless hours in the pool. To illustrate this I will give three examples from my own life. Please feel free to comment your own at the bottom of the page.
1 – My Best Friend
First and foremost swimming breeds friendship. I don’t know what it is about spending 2-5 hours a day mostly naked within five feet of someone, but it tends to create relationships that last a lifetime. I met my best friend Max Hague on my recruiting trip to Westminster College and I can honestly say that over the last two years he has been the most consistent person in my life (outside of my family of course). Do not underestimate the value of true friendship and do not give it up easily when you stumble upon it.
2 – A Community
As a swimmer you will always be provided with a community no matter where life takes you. Because of this you will never have to be afraid of moving far away from home or going to a new school because if you are still swimming, there will be people to meet. I cannot tell you how many awkward middle school students I have personally watched grow into great people and athletes because of swimming. My entrances into both high school and college were made easy by teammates waiting with open arms and without that sense of community, I do not know where I would be today.
3 – My Job
Besides the fact that I have the amazing opportunity to write and publish articles on this website, I have run the usual gamut of swimming related jobs including private swim lessons, lifeguarding, and coaching. The ultimate opportunity came to me when I received an email from my coach that informed me of an alumnus in a hiring position at Kill Devil Hills Ocean Rescue in the Outer Banks, North Carolina. This job means the world to me and I am undoubtedly at my happiest sitting on the beach protecting people.
To limit it to just three things was difficult, and swimming has given me so much more than that. Many of the most important people and experiences in my life have come from the pool. While I will never have crowds chanting my name nor thousands of fans paying me for my autograph, I am thankful for what I have and will never forget where it all came from.