Why I Believe in Practice

by SwimSwam Contributors 7

August 06th, 2022 Club, Lifestyle

By Megan Life

I believe in practice.

I believe in 6 a.m., in difficult meaning good, and in the power of hard work. I believe in the gift of adrenaline, coursing through my veins, and in the magic of a nap as the lactic acid settles deeper into my body. I believe nothing is worse than jumping in the pool at the start of practice but nothing is better than leaving at 8 a.m. with wet hair and the day started. I believe in practice. 

I started swimming when I was six. From the very beginning, I can remember feeling at home while training. That feeling never faded. When asking around, most people don’t reply that their favorite part of their sport is practice. Like many of you, I am not “most people.” I was the kid that was at every practice; whether I was exhausted, had something else going on, or it was optional. I showed up. I came with my American flag water bottle, my green bag, and a red hair tie. Now, at age 17, I show up to practice with those same exact things. At the end of each summer season of long practices and Wednesday night races, we have a championship meet. It goes like this…  

The blistering heat is numbed by an icy gust of air. Time slows as I enter, the crowd scrambles around while I stand still and take in the moment. The smell smacks me in the face, and the chlorine intensifies with every step. This smell is forever ingrained in my mind. It brings back memories of pure joy as well as gut-wrenching disappointment. Yet here I am, every summer, at JSL Champs. The butterflies in my stomach intensify and feel like a higher power has just transformed them into elephants learning to fly for the first time. My heart beats faster as each second passes until it stops. The pool stands still, frozen in time, glasslike and deeper than the ocean. The crowd noise dulls to a silent roar, yet all I can hear is the beep of the starter. I no longer can think. The first breath is always piercing, the air is warm and full compared to the sharpness of the water. With a final push it is all over and I am exhausted in the best way. As I leave the building, the same icy gust greets me and then the blistering heat becomes my reality once again. 

Each year it is like that. No matter the year, that’s Champs. At age 6, this meet was terrifying. At age 17, this meet is terrifying. But it’s terrifying in a familiar way that is almost comforting. Yet Champs is only possible through the weeks and weeks of practices before it. With only one more Champs ahead of me, I can’t believe I let myself feel relieved it was over. I would celebrate the fact that I could sleep in the next morning. Yet I always wake up the next morning craving to go back. Not to the meet, but to practice. I missed chatting with my friends in 10-second long segments while we rested at the wall. I missed feeling the sun reflecting off of the glossy water, burning my skin in the process. I missed feeling like my body was going to give up, but then finding another gear that I secretly possessed. I missed getting out of the pool knowing I was a better person because of it all. I missed practice. 

These days, every time I talk with someone, something along the lines of, “I’m so tired from practice” or “Practice was so hard this morning” will probably come out of my mouth. I’m not complaining, though, I’m celebrating the fact that I got to go to practice. A gift often overlooked. So, yeah, I believe in practice. 

About Megan Life

Megan Life is from Crozet, Virginia, and will be attending the University of Virginia in the fall. She swam for the Crozet Gators Swim Team for 12 summers and the Western Albemarle High School team for four years. Additionally she coached for both SMAC and Crozet Gators. 

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
11 days ago

Allen Iverson has left the chat.

12 days ago

Practice!?!?!?! We talking about practice?!?!?!

Sharon Corologos
12 days ago

You, Megan, are a fabulous writer.
This piece about swimming, about practice, is so gripping, so personal, so welcoming to a 76 yr old like me. You brought me back 50 years, to the local “Y”. I wasn’t much of a swimmer, but I related so clearly to the emotion in your writing.
YOU are a fabulous writer!

Old and Grizzled
12 days ago

If swimming is such a part of your life, you should swim in college. It was great fun and camaraderie. Same as it was as a teenager but living with your teammates just deepens the shared experience.

Reply to  Old and Grizzled
12 days ago

Can’t believe the downvotes on this but UVA has a club team that seems active and would probably be perfect for her.

HOO love
Reply to  SwimPop
11 days ago


Last edited 11 days ago by HOO love
HOO love
Reply to  SwimPop
11 days ago

https://swimswam.com/1-year-after-canceling-varsity-swim-michigan-state-wins-college-club-nationals/ UVA doesn’t just have a club team – they are at the top of club teams across the country for women!