Photo Courtesy of Dan Emmerman
Swimming is a sport. When I say swimming, I don’t mean just floating around with your friends and relaxing or playing games. I mean the intense, competitive sport of swimming. There is no arguing this. Imagine yourself playing some sport that’s very intense cardio-wise. Now imagine yourself doing it, but there’s a catch, you can’t breathe while doing it. That is swimming.
It is so much more than pure athleticism. It’s a very mentally demanding sport as well. When you swim, it’s like everything disappears. Under the water, there is no loud cheering like a football game or motivational tips from your coach when you need it. You just have to go and be able to coach yourself through whatever event you’re swimming. Even when your body is dying from complete exhaustion, you have to learn to push yourself past it and finish strong. Over time you train your mind to ignore the pain and focus on the goal.
You have to know the correct way to eat and stretch at anything from an hour and a half long practice to a four-day long meet. You learn what tech suits are higher quality and how to get them on (which is a surprisingly difficult, uncomfortable, time absorbing task), how to warm up and cool down properly, how to do time conversions for different length pools, understand what cuts you need to get for certain qualifying meets and so much more.
Aside from the mental aspect of the sport, physicality is also essential. I personally have spent many school days trying to find comfortable ways to sit through all of my soreness from previous practices. I’ve played travel soccer, basketball, tennis and track but swimming is by far the most exhausting one of all. I have pushed myself to the point of throwing up at practices and meets and have never looked back at those as bad experiences because they taught me how hard I could push myself.
As for being the hardest sport I’ve ever done, it is also the most time consuming sport I’ve been involved with. It doesn’t feel like an extra activity. It just becomes a part of your schedule, the same was school does. Every night, I would come home from school, do homework, get ready and go to practice, eat a five minute dinner, and hop in bed. It was the best feeling to get in bed right after a hard workout.
One of the best parts of swimming is how close you get with your teammates. Staying in a hotel room for multiple days after a long bus ride with each other really helps you grow closer. Even if you have to wake up at 5 a.m. every day to walk to a restaurant while it’s snowing, and then go straight to the pool for competition, it’s still enjoyable in some odd way. You end up with super great friendships.
So, in what way is swimming not a sport?