Is Swimming Really Worth It?

Gabriel Wheeler

 

As LSAC coaches we would love to see all of our athletes advance through our program and swim in college. However, we want you to understand that college swimming isn’t everything. Rather, we want you to understand that college swimming is a metaphor for a culmination of all your successes, failures, suffering, and joys from your dedication to the sport. Your highest highs and your lowest lows, your 1000’s of hours dedicated to a craft. All the times you’ve worked your body into a pulp, just to come back thicker than steel. These experiences have all formed 1000’s of life lessons. 

 

Regardless of whether or not you want to swim in college there are truths to why we believe you should stick with swimming through your youth. Here are some truths I prioritize above the rest:

 

-Youth athletics is a long term investment. Every meet, practice, swim suit, pair of fins, hotel, car ride, snacks, etc. is accounted for monetarily. After years of this investment one would hope to see some kind of measurable success. For a junior athlete, we only measure success qualitatively. Are they improving social skills, teamwork, participation, leadership, healthy habits, friendships, and coach-ability. If we can improve on those then the investment is worth it! However, as you progress from the junior group towards senior and elite levels the amount you’ve invested grows. Qualititative successes are still imperative to master but we encourage quantitative successes to become similarly important. Are you reaching a STAGS, TAGS, AAA, sectionals, nationals, olympic trial time standards that you suffered for? Are you constantly improving your times every year? Did you achieve your goals? We believe you need to grow through sport, not go through sport. 

 

-Anything in life you should be giving 100% anyways. By dedicating yourself to a craft no matter what it is you “learn how to learn”. Whether you find your passion in swimming, or find love for another sport, you learn how to adapt, take criticism, and overcome hardships through commitment. This commitment is excellent practice to learn how to excel in studies, jobs, owning a pet, or whatever it may be. You grow a positive mindset and gain valuable experience to tackle any curveballs the world throws your way.

 

-Swimmers are a breed of their own. Swimmers are weird. Swimmers are unique. Swimmers find joy by staring a black line wiggling aggressively through a chlorinated liquid just to get from one end of a wall to another end of a wall again, and again, and again just to be satisfied for a .01 second time drop. 

 

-Confidence is key. The wonderful thing about swimming is that all the success falls into your hands. On a football team, if your teammate drops the game winning pass, you can’t control the outcome. Swimming is different. All the success that comes from the sport is equivalent to what you put into it. You get a much greater feeling of accomplishment, and self-sufficiency when good things happen, because nobody but you can control the results.

 

-The bonds from suffering have been shown to create solidarity in teammates. In 20 years from now you’re not going to remember your times, but you’re going to remember the memories you formed with your teammates, who trained with you. You can’t make a diamond without a little bit of pressure, and overcoming the hardest times with your teammates are memories you will forever cherish.

 

-You don’t have to want to swim in college. However, if you follow the right path in your swimming career that door will be open. We had a saying growing up “If coach Adam can swim in college anyone can.” Some roster spot at a school will be out there for you. Our goal as coaches is to keep that door open through the process of development. It is known that college swimmers have better opportunities with scholarships and school choices, than non-athletes. Many have said, like Tate Jackson at our swim clinic last weekend, that “swimming in college was the hardest thing they've ever done, but also the most rewarding thing the've ever done.”