The sport of swimming is one that is heavily contested but is not for the weak and soft hearted. Bright and early morning sessions are an expectance and a normal person would see a ‘swimmer’ as crazy. Swimming is a sport that requires determination, dedication, commitment and some serious time management. Swimmers endure much pain, stress and anxiety with fitting everything into their lives without the daily troubles of family and relationships. I will discuss my experiences and my daily adversities and joys along with the mental and physical times that I endure as a ‘swimmer’.
Getting up at the dim hours of morning when the buzzer screeches and reads 4:45 is not a very pleasant sight to anyone. This sight of the clock to swimmers is a regular viewing and one that they do without hesitating. When I think what time I get up and why, so many thoughts dwell through my head. While other students are snuggled in their beds with the heating on and breakfast to meet them when they wake; I am swimming in reasonably cold water, enduring laps of pain, with many thoughts entertaining me.
After enduring these laps I do not have an appetizing breakfast only a mere prima of juice and muesli bar; hardly enough to look forward to. Many would think while reading this, then why do you do it? The answer is a simple one; I see a sense of belonging in the sport. If I were to quit swimming which I have dwelled and neared acting upon, I would feel unfit, lethargic and would feel as if I was not good at anything and therefore nothing to be recognized as. As a leader in one of the sports at the college, I feel satisfied that at least I am giving something to a team and once again feel a sense of belonging.
If I were to give up and not swim next year in my final year at the college, I would feel as if I had let myself down as well as the team and I would not mean much to the college. In my short career in swimming I have achieved accolades that I am proud of. These accolades include winning an Australian medal, being Victorian Champion, and making a Tip Top Australian Team. Once you have reached a level of this, it is very hard not to let go. In saying so, I achieved winning a medal at the Australian Age Championships two years ago.
The year later I was struck down with illness and a shoulder injury that plagued my preparation. Disappointed with coming 6th in my main event hit me hard, but I was determined to make amends for my disappointment this year. This year I trained as well as I have ever trained and was committed down to every lap. I raced my hardest and ultimately, failed. I missed the national final and to me this was a complete slap in the face for all the hard work I had done. I had prepared adequately for the meet and had just failed mentally.
My legs lactated up during the race and I struggled to finish the race off. I swam the race thinking negatively and it reflected on my result. When I was younger, a couple of years ago, I believed that I had enough guts and determination to beat anyone I tried; including Australian Champions. With this determination, I hit the wall. All of my confidence has diminished and I struggle to keep positive. After swimming my final race at the recent Australian Championships in Brisbane, I saw my time of 2:13. 9 and place of 13th.
At that particular moment after getting out of the water, I felt total anger and anguish. “It’s over. I’m not going to swim anymore. ” I said to a fellow competitor. They saw on my face that I meant it. I held back tears of anger and frustration as another wasted opportunity went by. I went home with believing that I was going to quit swimming and found no enthusiasm or reason to continue. This was until my older brother gave me advice that at once I refused, and then I considered his suggestion of making a change and moving clubs.
Due to the close relationship that I had with my coach, I struggled to imagine telling him face to face that I was going to cease training with him. However, I took on board that he would want the best for me and even if that meant moving. I met him face to face and battled tears in telling him that I was moving to a new club and a giant force in Swimming Victoria. Now I am swimming at a club called Melbourne Vicentre which, is home to the likes of Matt Welsh, Michael Klim and Giaan Rooney.
It is a prospective change for me and a change that I am hoping will improve my swimming and reflect on a happier lifestyle. Swimming is not an easy sport, a swimmer requires different strengths; these strengths help a ‘swimmer’ in life in swimming and beyond. “No one does something because it is easy. That is why you guys are special, you guys aren’t normal. Swimming isn’t normal, it is not normal to wake up the hours that you guys wake up at, while your friends are in bed or watching TV. “