The words you always want to be able to say to yourself, but seldom do, the words that let you know that you have reached your own goal as well as surpassed it, “I did it” In many ways I have been able to tell myself these words, in many ways I have had to say the opposite.
I am a competitive swimmer who is near becoming a national level athlete,”wet” training 16-17 hours per week, plus dry-land activities I do at home, I have plans to win medals at provincials in one of the fastest provinces in Canada, but I have learned that the words “Just Do It” are easier said than done. Swimming is said to be one of the most physically demanding sports and takes up a ton of time. I joined into the sport when I turned twelve, six years after my competitors had already gotten used to the water and were competing, I had to get used to the water really quickly if I were to have a fighting chance. As well, I train twice as hard as my competitors to gain the conditioning level they already had. The only reason I am where I am today is my hard work, determination, and of course, my coach, who pushed me to always strive to be my best.
Injuries I have endured during the season have led to complications in my sport – a full month of missed practices, Every day I missed practice because of my broken foot, I thought of how my life would be without swimming. I would have more energy, for sure, but I missed it and was so restless that all my friends were able to train and get better without me. During this time I realized my competitiveness is so concentrated that when I cannot swim, I branch out and compete in anything. I start competing with random people I have never met, trying to walk faster than them or some other such activity, Then, I get angry at myself at being so pathetic, and resume what I am doing. I’ve learnt that my determination to win is something that I cannot get rid of and is both a blessing and a curse.
Keeping my marks up has been a problem since I started swimming, I had Honors in every subject before I started into the sport, but with my vigorous training program, I’m usually too tired to do anything when I get home besides sleep, never mind homework. Sometimes you have to apply more than just hard work; you must always focus on what might happen if you cannot say “I did it”, if you cannot achieve your goal. If swimming will never get me anywhere, what will I do? School has stayed a major part of my life. My favorite subject is science, especially bio and human systems. I plan to work as a forensic anthropologist if I do not make it in swimming, so I have had to work really hard to keep my grades high and my parents happy.
More than anything I think that the one thing that inspired me the most to do what I do is my love of the water, as well as my love of competition. Swimming is only 10% physical, because everyone is training about the same amount and being bigger than the next guy may only create more drag. What sets swimmers apart is the stuff that goes on in our heads – self-esteem and knowing that you can achieve whatever you set out for are more powerful than any muscles you might have. I also find that adrenaline helps a bit as well. Competition is my favorite thing about any sport. As long as there is someone better than me, as long as I can still improve and go faster, there is a purpose to my sport and I will carry on swimming.
It has amazed me how much one can improve and how the world around you changes as you experience things in life such as pain. I have come so far, from losing every race to becoming one of the best in Canada. Next month I have a camp that takes me and several other western Canadians to Montreal to compete against the eastern swimmers, in hopes to prove the better half of Canada. When I heard about it first I thought “Me? No way! I’m way too slow for that,” and I was, as long as I thought that way. As soon as I began to think positively about the camp and how I would achieve it, I began to speed up. By the end of the month I had won several medals and beat all of my times, putting me in the running for the camp. As I realize this factor and about thinking positively, I now think about what I want to get from this sport: a scholarship? Possible, nationals? Also possible, Olympics? Even that can be possible if I train hard and I think positively about it.
This year has been a year of success, pain, Chlorine and learning. I have learned so many things, from how to keep my kick together when doing butterfly, to learning that in swimming that the strongest part of yourself is a positively thinking brain, not your biceps. I feel whatever happens from here on, will help me achieve my goals or be an obstacle that will help me become stronger while achieving them.
Ian has a passion for two things: water and challenges. He is a grade 9 student at High Park School who has set his sites high. Perhaps you’ll see him in the Olympics.