The 12 Gifts of Swimming

Drew McClure

The following article was written by Andrea Phillpotts, a writer, teacher, and Rapids parent.

As we hit pause on swimming for the holiday break and settle into the season of light, hope, and family, it’s a good time to reflect on the real gifts in our life.  I’m not thinking about shiny presents tucked under a Christmas tree or parcels still resting next to a menorah, but the gifts of experience with people that we care about.  For many of us, this includes the gift of swimming.

At a meet earlier this month, I had the chance to ask a bunch of Rapids swimmers about what swimming means to them and what the gift of sport has brought to their lives.  In between giggles and juice boxes, exciting swims and dripping swimsuits, we came up with a list. 

Here it is, the Twelve Gifts of Swimming:

Gift #12 is discipline.  Our swimmers get into the pool early in the morning even when the weather is chilly and we’d all rather be snuggling under a blanket.  Coming to the pool multiple times a week takes commitment. 

Gift #11 is useful skills.  One child even referred to swimming as necessary for “survival.” It’s true that many Canadians perish every year due to unfamiliarity around water; competence and confidence can save lives.

Gift #10 is future career opportunities.  Take a look at our pools’ lifeguards closely and you’ll find many past Rapids swimmers.  Many have gone into careers in coaching, kinesiology, massage therapy, and sport medicine.

Gift #9 is travelling for swim meets. While my son has only gone as far as Burnaby and Delta, I understand that swimming takes Rapids swimmers much further afield with meets such as the Victoria, Toronto, and beyond.  

Gift #8 is the energy and excitement in meets.  Connected to this is gift #7: fun competition.  Achieving a long-term personal goal for oneself is definitely gift #6.

Gift #5 is fitness.  Take a look at our swimmer’s broad shoulders, strong legs, and glowing skin and we see how fit they are from this sport.  Swimming’s famous endorphin rush is gift #4 as is the de-stressing effect exercise gives us (#3.)

The love of water is #2.  The cool, smooth slicing of water as you push through a stroke is one of the simplest joys of swimming.  The quiet and peace under the pool is transformative as is the dance of light on the pool walls when the sun is out.

Unanimously, though, Richmond Rapids’ gift #1 is the gift of community, of the friendships forged in lessons and practices, on benches and in change rooms.  It’s the group of parents chatting on the bleachers week after week and the coaches who are always there for our youth.  This is the best thing about swimming in a club like Rapids.

While we’ll miss each other over the swimming break, we look forward to a splashy new year in 2019!  Happy holidays to you and yours!

(Please note that all opinions in this column do not necessarily reflect those of the Richmond Rapids or any other organization. If you have any story ideas or questions, please contact