I started swimming competitively when I was 11 years old which is perhaps a little later than many other swimmers. But it took me a year or so to really fall in love with the sport. Now that I am a day away from my last club meet as a full member of Team Santa Monica, I want to take the time to look back on my years on TSM and a few pieces of advice I can offer as a result (even if they come across as a bit cliche).
Balance school and sport:
Though swimming is undoubtedly my passion and it has helped me a lot in my life, I realized early on that since I was never on track to swim professionally, it was my academics that would open the doors to higher education for me. I would tell any younger swimmer that they should take challenging courses to prepare for college while working hard in their swimming at the same time. In my experience, the athletic challenge actually serves to lessen the stress caused by the school work.
Show up everyday
While coaches are right to tell swimmers to give lots of effort at every practice, this will not be conducive to success unless the athletes actually show up to workouts. Even if you feel terrible or lazy or sore, coming to practice will not only help you improve, it will teach you to separate feeling from results in athletics.
Times aren’t everything
On a similar note, just because a race feels “good”, the time may actually be way off where it should be. Conversely, some of my best times have been in races that felt terrible. The point I am trying to make here is that even you train really really hard, your times may not reflect the work you put in. This is the one of the worst feelings for a swimmer. Yet, as long as you don’t let one bad race influence your whole meet, or one bad meet influence your whole season and recognize that your work will eventually pay off, you will eventually find success.