4:30 in the morning is not a time anyone should be awake, let alone driving to Rally Sport Athletic Club to get in an outdoor pool when it is -3 degrees outside. As a swimmer, not only do I do that sometimes, but every morning I am up at 4:20 to get my things together for practice, school, and then another practice. Swimming has not only kept me a healthy, active, and athletic person, it has also shaped my personality and the way I interact with people. To my team and I, swimming is not just a sport, it is a family, and a way of life. We eat, breathe, and sleep swimming. The only thing that helps us make it through a two hour practice that early is our love for swimming and each other.
Swimming has been in my life for almost 13 years. I started swimming when I was 6. My mother made me start swimming because she was a swimmer, an amazing swimmer at that, she was on the South African National Swim Team. As soon as I started swimming, I knew it was the sport for me. It took me two years to switch from a summer only, not very competitive team to a full on, very competitive, nationally ranked year round swim team. By that time I was obsessed with swimming. So obsessed that as punishment, my parents would not allow me to go to practice if I did something wrong. At an early age, swimming taught me commitment. Both in and out of the water, I try to be committed to everything I do. It takes more than just commitment to keep going to practice twice a day every day when your friends at school are hanging out and doing things until late at night. There are huge sacrifices we all have to make in order to keep healthy, and get to all the practices we need to get to.
Another lesson swimming has taught me about life is determination, to never give up. Swimming is by no means easy, but that’s what makes it so much fun, the challenge and the feeling you get when you succeed something you didn’t think you could. Swimming has taught me to be able to push myself more than I thought possible. In the middle of a tough set, the only options are to give up, or push yourself and stay determined. Throughout life, determination has helped shaped my personality. There are many adverse situations in life, that because of swimming, I am able to stay determined, and know what to do.
My swimming family has become more than a team to me. They are there for me and for each other always. We see each other more than anyone else; see each other in the best and worst of moods. Most importantly, we help keep each other motivated during tough sets, during tough times in life, and in any situation. The people on my team are some of the best friends I have. They will be with, and behind me for the rest of my life. Our team is one big family with our coach being our father. He is the driving force that keeps us together and motivated.
Thanks to swimming, I am a better, smarter, healthier person. Swimming keeps me determined, focused, and committed in life. Ever since I started, I have learned a lot about life and myself through the lessons I’ve learned from swimming, and the people involved in my swimming career. Now that I have seen what swimming has done to me so far, I can’t wait to see what it will do for me in the future as I continue my swimming career with a whole new family, pool, coach, and a whole new swimming experience. Without swimming, I wouldn’t be where I am today.