By: Joshua Wolfe
I am a competitive swimmer for 14 years and running, with many of swim teams throughout Florida. I know what it’s like to be up at the crack of dawn, running endless laps. My non-swimmer friends and relatives told me I was crazy, that swimming was boring, that it was just endless monotony. But to a swimmer, there is no better adrenaline rush than standing on the block alongside seven other swimmers, or winning a race by a tenth of a second.
Competitive swimming requires an intense level of dedication. You have to force yourself to get out of your warm bed at 5:30 in the morning to put on a still-slightly-damp swimsuit and stand in 40 degree weather waiting for practice to start. You have to put up with limited lane space, jerks of lifeguards, and irritating swimmers who think they’re faster than you. So, in essence, you have to be hands-down devoted to it to stick with it.
Swimmers also require a fierce determination. A strong will, so when the going gets tough, the tough get going. You have to make a conscious effort to work on your stroke form, your turns, your touches. Every swimmer knows that the last stroke can make or break a race. You may think you tied the swimmer next to you, but in reality they touched a sixteenth of a second before you. In swimming, every second counts. My coach hammered into me that it wasn’t you against the swimmers in the other lanes, it was you against the clock, you against yourself. After about a year or so of swimming, I started ignoring everyone in the other lanes. From the second I heard the bell, to the moment I touched the wall, it was me against myself. It was me, pushing myself as hard, and as fast and far as I could go. To me, if when I finished the race, I could pull myself up out of the pool right after I finished, I didn’t race hard enough. But those times when I would race a 200 yard sprint, by the last 50 yards, I felt like I was pulling lead. But I would just think,...