Dear Struggling Swimmer,
Last season was your season. Or at least it was supposed to be the season where you would drop a bunch of time and not only get one cut, but three whole cuts to your championship meet. It was the season where you trained harder than ever and you knew that last meet would be an amazing one. That’s how it was supposed to be. Instead, it was the season where you couldn’t get your feel down, your training drowned, and that meet, the amazing one you dreamed about, went in the complete opposite direction.
You pretend it went well, but deep down inside you are upset, disappointed, and angry.
Then that one thought pops in your head: there will never be a season like that again; in fact, there will never be another season again. Period. You think that you wasted a full season moving backwards. You want to quit. You need to quit. But I’m going to tell you right now: don’t.
Even though you’re frustrated about how you did last season, you did get stronger. I know it may not seem like it, but you did. Physically, your body got stronger and you just haven’t adapted to that yet. Mentally, you pushed through an insanely tough season of training. Emotionally you were upset, you were angry, but you played it cool and learned to look at it optimistically. Your growth will continue, but only if you let it. If you quit now, you’ll never ever know what you could’ve done this upcoming season. You have so much potential built up inside of you, and it just need to be let out.
At the moment, you’re feeling burned out. You think you have given everything you have, and you are never going to improve again. This situation is stressful and you have to choose to keep swimming or to not keep swimming. Those choices seem like black and white, but they are definitely not that simple. I think that you should take a long break. I don’t mean like a yearlong vacation, but a couple weeks, maybe a month to piece your thoughts together. Talk to your parents, your coach, your teammates, maybe even your siblings. If they know how you feel, they will be able to understand you better and help you through this. Think about all of your achievements, friends you’ve made, coaches you’ve come to love, and Olympians you’ve gotten to work with at clinics. Those were all fun, and you don’t want to lose it all in one decision.
Somewhere inside your mind, there is a voice telling you that you want to keep swimming. Listen to that voice, and know that it is correct. You do love swimming; you have a passion for it you want to keep forever. You say you want to quit because things are really challenging. Right now, you’ve hit a road block, a really big one. That’s okay, everyone gets those: swimmers, writers, and all kinds of other athletes. It’s tough to get past one of these, but I want you to know that I believe in you. I know you are mentally, physically, and emotionally strong enough to get over this big hump. When you do get past it, it’ll make you even stronger.
So believe in yourself, because once you hop, drive, or run over this obstacle, there are amazing things waiting for you on the other side.