March madness and my swimming experience
Keeping up with the NCAA Div. I Swimming and Diving Championship meets these past two weeks has made me reflect on my own collegiate swimming career.
And damn, has it made me emotional.
I started competitive swimming when I was six years old because I wanted an athletic activity that wouldn’t make me sweat.
I kid you not.
Swimming became the most important thing in my life. I gave up other activities like girl scouts and softball so I could focus on swimming. I was never a great swimmer, there were always girls my age much faster than me, but seeing myself improve over the years made me proud — proud of all the work I put in to get to where I was.
When I got to college, I had some big goals for myself. I was going to break the minute mark in the 100 back, break the Oswego State record and be in the top-eight in the SUNYAC in the 100 back.
I never did any of those things.
But I’m not disappointed.
Do I wish I could have accomplished those original goals?
Of course I do.
However, I’m grateful I was able to swim in college at all. It wasn’t easy and I know many people who didn’t make it to senior year. Swimming all these years has made me a better, more well-rounded person. I know the value of hard work, dedication and teamwork. I know how to set goals and reach them and how to cope when things don’t go my way.
As I watched these swimmers the past two weekends, I felt happy for them.
No, I don’t know what it’s like to break a record or be a national champion.
But I’ve been in their shoes.
I know what its like to fall in love with a sport as a little kid and have it be your whole life growing up. I know how hard it is balancing practices and meets with classes and a social life, but I also know how amazing it is to finish a race, look up at the clock, see your time and feel a sense of accomplish wash over you.
That’s what I loved about swimming and what I’ll always love about it, as a participant or a spectator.