There is a common mindset that swimming is an individual sport. While on many levels there is an individual aspect to swimming, the longer I am involved in the sport, the more I realize that the TEAM is an integral component.
1. ITS MORE THAN JUST SWIMMING ON A RELAY: While relays are certainly the most visible team aspect of swimming, swimmers should always have a sense of responsibility to their teammates. This means that they give their best effort in practice and in meets, not only to make themselves better but to encourage their teammates to be better. When any of our swimmers achieves a great accomplishment in the pool (State championship, National Cut, making a select team) the first thing I tell their teammates is that they share in that accomplishment as well. They helped push, encourage, and challenge that individual on a daily basis. Their teammates success is the whole team’s success.
2. WHEN YOU DON’T SHOW UP IT MATTERS: “failing to show up” can manifest itself in many different ways – maybe you physically haven’t been to practice, maybe you are physically there but are mentally not prepared, maybe you are a distraction to your teammates. However, when you “fail to show up,” please remember that it not only affects you, it affects your whole team. Every swimmer on the team plays an important role, whether you lead the lane on a daily basis or are struggling to make the interval, your teammates are aware of what you are doing. The more you commit to showing up, the more committed your teammates will be to your success.
3. HAVE YOU EVER TRIED SWIMMING ON YOUR OWN? I have, its hard. I get bored really easily. I talk myself out of harder intervals. I start playing with equipment. I put on fins way too quick and resort to kick sets when I really need to be swimming fast. Have you ever stepped up to race your teammate at practice? How much harder do you work? I’ve seen swimmers push themselves to their limits in practice not because their coach is standing over them, but because their teammate in the next lane over is making them work for every lap. I’ve seen swimmers challenge themselves to swim on intervals they have never been able to make because their teammates tell them its time to step up. You need your teammates, you will never work as hard alone as you will with someone in the water pushing you.
4. YOUR TEAMMATES ARE YOUR BEST FRIENDS: you train 6 days a week for 2+ hours a day with these people. Your coach expects 100% effort every day – that is hard to achieve on your own. You need your teammates, not just to challenge you in the water, but to encourage you out of the water. You need teammates to make you laugh when you want to cry, to put things in perspective when you’ve lost sight of your goals, to “speak swimming” with when all of your non swimming friends are still asking you “did you win?”. Ive seen groups of swimmers swim beyond their ability because of the way they support one another. I’ve seen swimmers overcome injury, illness, and a variety of other obstacles because their teammates expected them to get back in the water. You need these people not just at the pool, but in your life. These are the people that will be there for you in your hardest moments and who will show unwavering support no matter where life takes you.
So my challenge to you AtomNation is to make a commitment to your team – recognize that you are not swimming on an island. No matter your swimming goals, practice group, or age, you matter to this team. Trust your coaches, trust the process, trust your teammates and commit to making someone else better every day and you will be amazed at your own progression. You get what you give, so give to your team, recognize the importance of showing up and working hard. “A SMALL TEAM, COMMITTED TO A CAUSE GREATER THAN THEMSELVES, CAN ACHIEVE ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING”