We are sleep deprived.
We are sore.
We are tired.
We are hungry.
We have achy muscles.
We push ourselves to our limits day after day.
We attend eighteen hours of swim practice weekly.
We do a sport that works the ENTIRE body.
We endure vigorous, agonizing, grueling, strenuous sets.
We push our bodies until we throw up.
Our shoulders pop and crack constantly.
We wake up at four A.M. for morning practices.
We don’t only train in the pool, we run, lift weights, and basically do anything coach tells us to do.
We work and work and work for the hopes of dropping time, yet, many times, our times are stubborn and don’t budge.
We stare at a black line for hours. 25, 50,75, 100. 25, 50…
We cry at times.
We are always striving for a bigger and better goal than the one we just achieved.
“Normal” kids are watching TV; we are training.
We work nonstop, constantly, everyday to take off .01 seconds of our time.
We try our best and still get yelled at. We try our best and get rewarded.
We experience being unmotivated. We push through.
We don’t only strengthen ourselves as athletes, we strengthen our selves as people.
We suffer as a team, we grow as a team, we improve as team.
We make friends and experiences that will last a life time.
We have a second family.
We strive for that amazing feeling after working so, so hard. After giving a workout all you have, we strive for that feeling of accomplishment, achievement, effort, proudness, fulfillment.
We may forget it at times, but we love the sport.
We are swimmers.
A couple days in the past couple weeks, I have been in a slump when I go to practice. I am slower than my teammates who go and qualify for the Olympic trials. I feel slow. I push myself, yet still am slower than my teammates, I get discouraged. I feel like a failure, so I don’t work as hard as I should. I regret my performance in practice. I cry on the drive home.
Today, I acknowledged the fact that I am on a fast team; my teammates are some of the best in the nation. I acknowledged the fact that I can be like them if I do what I do best: work hard. I acknowledged that I’m on this team for a reason.
Today, I worked so hard that my legs stung, my arms numb, my lungs burned, I got dizzy, my heart beat at what felt like a million miles an hour. At times, I was practically hyperventilating. At points, I wanted to give up, but I didn’t. I pushed as hard as I could. I missed a couple intervals, but I didn’t give up. At the end of the set, my body still ached and burned, but I felt amazing. A feeling of happiness almost beyond words. A feeling that any true athlete understands. At the end of the set, I felt the feeling that makes me remember why I love the sport. Remember why I do all of the things listed above. Remember why I’m so deeply in love with this sport.
Remember why I am proud to say: “I am a swimmer.”