For this diary entry I got inspired by the message board on The Race Club website. In these last days there had been made some very interesting posts like “The Art of Taper” or “The sprinter mentality”. And some great personal experiences had been shared.
I now start my 12th year in swimming (so still a rookie). And probably, like most of you, I have had moments of doubt where I was close to stop. Times where I worked so hard for success and earned so little and bad. But hey, I already knew that because one of my coaches once told me:
“Listen – Swimming is hard work and most of the time it pays badly (literally). But when it pays back for all the hard work that had been done, it will be a lifetime experience”
And he was right. Every time I reached my goals I forgot about the struggle before and was filled up with happiness. Although this is not the point of the story. I mean, why didn’t I stop in times where struggle and not success had affected my swim. Sometimes I had to wait 2 years to come back. How could I know that I would succeed again? What was it that kept me swimming?
I remember every second of this day like it was yesterday. It was on July 7th in 2002 that I decided to stop with swimming (and of course I didn’t).
When in the season of 2000/2001 my fly started to get stronger and stronger, coming up to break the 60”, I was getting excited about every meet because I knew that maybe this time it would happen. But it never happened and in summer 2001, on my last junior Swiss Nationals I wanted to win the 100m fly and break the wall of 60”. I swam 1:00.01 and finished second (first finished in 1:00.00!!). Almost one year later I still didn’t go under the minute and now, again it was on the summer Swiss Nationals, I told myself:
“Swim the 100m fly under the minute or stop swimming!”
D-day, July 7th had come and I finished 17th (just not in the finals) and again didn’t go under the minute. So, as soon as the morning program was over, I started to get my stuff together and told my teammates that I was sorry but I had to leave because of my 100m fly and that the time to stop swimming for me was right now.
I already was in my parents’ car, ready to go back home and never think about swimming again when my coach came running out of the pool area and told me not to leave. Someone didn’t want to swim his 100m fly final and as 17th after the heats I just got into the B-final (now placed 16th). First I thought he was making a joke with me to get me back to the pool side but it was the truth. So even if I decided to stop I had to go back and swim this final. These were Swiss National Championships and it should be an honor to swim a final and I would never miss something like that (even in Switzerland).
By the way I have to say that I didn’t do any warm-up and my concentration could had been ways better.
Tell me you already now what happened. So I’m sure your right! I finished 16th and last again but who cares about – I did it in 59.99! And that’s the moment where something told me not to finish up with swimming.
So let (me) us know what your special experience was that told you – you should swim.
This is a piece I wrote for the Race Club where you’ll find the original diary post “What Keeps You Swimming?” as well as many others.