Time is of the essence in the sport of swimming. The ungodly time you have to wake up for workout each morning. The amount of times you have to go through a mindless, aerobic freestyle set. The time you need to pace for a set of fifties, not to mention how many times you have to hit it. The number of times you have to hit the weight room or the water in a day. In swimming, it all comes back to the time and how fast or how small you can get it down to. Whether it be playing a game of ABC during a kick set to make practice time move a little faster or pushing yourself to the brink to hit the fastest average you’ve ever had, it’s all about knocking seconds off the clock. And while the goal of every swimmer that hops in the water before the sun makes an appearance is to have the fastest time on the scoreboard each time they swim, I warn you to try as best you can to slow your college swimming career down. While four years seems like an eternity compared the miniscule times that matter in swimming, it’ll be gone faster than the starter can say “Take your mark, GO”.
Now this isn’t to say you won’t be counting down the minutes to your 36 hours of freedom during a Saturday morning practice, because you will. I did, we all do. You’ll count down each set of max out squats because between you and me, who honestly enjoys not being able to sit down to go to the bathroom because of how sore your legs are. You’ll count down the number of hard days of practice you have left until you start taper: the best time of the year. And then you’ll count down the number of days you have left of taper because all you want to do next is hit the water at your championship meet and see the time of the scoreboard, the time you’ve been working for all season.
But between your countdowns and passing of the time, take a step back and realize how quick one season went by, one you can’t have back, leaving you with one less than you already had. Realize you have one less season with the teammates who have become a second family of brothers and sisters, one less season to learn from the coaches who have become a second mom and dad, one less season to eat whatever the hell you want (trust me this will matter in four years).
Even though you’re focusing to drop time each season, make sure you add time to cherish the things that matter most in this sport, and to me that’s the people. You can’t look me in the eye and tell me you could get through four years of the most intense, gut-wrenching, rigorous training without the teammates who swim next to you day in and day out. You just can’t. You need people to wake up with, to go through hell with, and to celebrate the success with.
So as your four years are slowly ticking away, take the time to cherish the things that matter, the things you’ll remember down the road. In hindsight, no matter how sharp your memory is, it’s going to be tough to remember your best time from a championship meet or the time you needed to hold to hit a goal pace. What you’re going to remember is the time a teammate raced for the first time after coming back from an injury. The time you rented a boat with teammates on a day off from training trip in the Florida Keys and didn’t have a care in the world. The number of late nights and early mornings where “you just had to be there”. The time when strangers became family and moments became memories.
It all comes back to time.