Spoiler alert: It’s not.
We can all agree that swimming is not an easy sport. But choosing the easy route has never been the swimmer way. Here are five things which make swimming one of the hardest, yet most rewarding, sports out there…
1. Struggling with Motivation
Motivation is essential in our sport; without it, it’s nearly impossible to spend hours a day in the pool and in the weight room. It’s not always easy to find motivation, and we all experience periods when our motivation wavers. Lack of motivation negatively impacts our performance, and when we lose our drive, it can be hard to find something that inspires us. Whether it’s achieving your end-of-season goal or being there for your team, find a form of motivation that works for you. After all, you get out of it what you put into it.
2. Early Morning Practices
Swimmers are up for practice before the crack of dawn while most people are still sound asleep, and we practice far earlier than most other sports teams. We go to practice when the stars are still shining, and leave morning practice when the sun is just starting to rise. On top of all that, the most intense part of our season occurs when it’s dark and cold outside. Waking up early for morning practices is never fun, but knowing that your teammates and other swimmers across the country are turning their alarms off at the same time you are makes it just a little bit easier.
3. Overcoming Obstacles
We all deal with adversity during our swimming careers. Whether it’s hitting a plateau, a season-ending injury, or loss of motivation, we all have obstacles we must overcome. To swim fast, we must break down those barriers, but it can be hard to stick with it knowing it would be easier to give up. Just as we push through hard sets and tough races, we need to push through what blocks us from reaching our full potential, knowing that the outcomes will be worth the possible pain and heartache along the way.
4. Hard Training
Without a doubt, swim practices are difficult. We train hours upon hours to race for a small amount of time, and the time and energy we put into our training may not always seem worth it. Swimming’s a sport of delayed gratification; we have to wait months, even years, to see the slightest bit of improvement. Whether we believe it or not, sets have a purpose, and our coaches are only helping us improve. If practices were easy, we’d never become stronger and faster. Training is hard, but it’s harder at the end of the season knowing you could’ve done more.
5. Mental Toughness
The mental aspect of swimming is arguably the most important, but often the most forgotten. We’ve nailed the physical aspect of our sport: we know that our bodies are capable of swimming and racing lap after lap with good technique at a high intensity. But what goes on in our minds as we train and race is something that blocks many swimmers. Developing mental toughness is a process. Just as we train our bodies, we must train our minds to stay focused and engaged during practice and races, which is a skill that doesn’t happen overnight. By staying positive and focusing on what you can control, you can work towards becoming more mentally tough.
Swimming’s not easy, but easy doesn’t make us better. My teammate has a quote written on her kickboard which reads:
“If it was easy, everyone would do it.”
And swimmers aren’t just everyone.