The Day I Quit Swimming

by SwimSwam 19

April 09th, 2018 Lifestyle

Courtesy of Alyssa Swanson

As most of the girls on my team know, I have a theory that if you don’t want to quit swimming at least twice a week you’re not working hard enough.

Now imagine this, I am 10. I am told to hold a streamline and dolphin kick underwater to the other end of the pool. For the first time In my life, I think to myself, I want to quit swimming.

I am 12. I’m preparing for my 50 butterfly, nervously chatting to the girl behind me. I dive in and immemorial swim two stokes of freestyle, and am fairly confident I am disqualified… I am so incredibly embarrassed. I want to quit swimming.

I am 14. I’m watching a scary Movie with my friends and I get a text from my mom telling me she’s here to pick me up. My friends are making fun of me for leaving at 10pm…. but I have practice in the morning. What do you want me to do? Quit swimming?

I am 16. For one entire week, I actually did quit swimming.

I am 17, I feel like I’m going to to pass out almost every time I touch the water. The doctor tells me it would help if I got a pacemaker. Maybe I should quit swimming.

I am in my first semester of my freshman year here at ISU, my coach Steve Paska writes 20x200s on the whiteboard. Oh my god….. what have I done…. I’m gonna have to quit swimming.

A year later before our 400IM, my teammate Karley Licking and I have managed to talk ourselves into borderline panic attacks in the diving well of Notre Dame’s aquatic center. I look at Karley and say, “Why do we do this? Why don’t we just quit swimming?”

It’s my junior year. I am on my second IM set of the day and it’s not even 7am. I feel like I have heard the same three songs played over and over for at least an hour…. my head is pounding. I take a deep breath and say: “that’s it, If I hear one more Sean Kingston song, I am going to quit swimming”

I am swimming the last race of my career, I touch the wall at the half way mark of my 200 fly, my whole body screaming in protest and I almost laugh to myself thinking, “Is it too late to quit swimming?”

I finish the race. I sob into the gutter.
I’m not ready to quit swimming.

About Alyssa Swanson

An Eden Prairie Minnesota native, Alyssa Swanson is a recently retired division 1 swimmer at Illinois State University. She is currently pursuing her degree in elementary education, and is looking forward to seeing what adventure comes next.

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4 years ago

We have an ongoing discussion with our 3 teen boys about quitting. Our challenge is however that they also participate in other team sports and seem to get a lot more out of the friendship and team dynamics. It is very difficult to encourage to “keep swimming Nemo” if you are competing with other sporting codes.

4 years ago

After I touched the wall in my final college race, a 200 back in the conference championship, I remember my first thought was: “Yes! I NEVER have to do this again, EVER!”

After that race, I kept in shape, but went 38 years without swimming. I started up about 5 years ago and have been swimming all over the world competing in Masters Swimming. For my age, I am in amazing shape, and am grateful to be able to swim and compete, but the love/hate relationship with swimming is still very real for me.

4 years ago

Time to move on to masters swimming. With masters, you never need to quit! it’s more fun and less intense.

4 years ago

Beautifully written… I can totally relate.

4 years ago

Forbes talked about having a skill for life…….enjoy knocking out a km or 2 now and then ,,,,,,never give up…….

4 years ago

WOW. Absolutely stunning writing. So concise, but so touching and powerful. Tried to read it out loud to my 10 year-old, but couldn’t finish out loud (something must have gotten in my eye…)

Alyssa Swanson
Reply to  Flutterby
4 years ago

It means the world to hear that. This was actually an excerpt from my senior speech that I gave at my last team banquet, safe to say I could barely get the last line out.

Dan D.
4 years ago

My coach told me something when I was going through a rough time with stress before meets. He said, “Embrace every chance to race, because someday–whether it’s tomorrow, 3 months, 2 years, or 7 years–you will swim your last race. You’ll finish, and you won’t want it to be over. You will miss everything–the grind, the stress, the commitment. So live in the moment and think of what will make you miss the sport someday.” That idea keeps me going on rough days.

4 years ago

Love this – thank you!