Monday, December 15, 2014

What Race?

I was just looking at a picture on Facebook of one of my former coworkers. It is a picture of her when she was little. She is covered head to toe in mud, is holding a soccer ball, and has an arm cast. It once again reminded me of how un athletic I was as a kid. I liked some games, but I was the kind of kid who'd rather sit and daydream. Those memories made me think about how I am now with my swimming. I am the most out of shape and un athletic swimmer my coach ever had. My coach has me go through about a half hour of stretching and core work a day to get my body more like how a swimmer's body should be. I was thinking about this all because I wonder why I love swimming so much when I was never an athletic child, nor did I ever have an athletic body.

I've come to the conclusion that its what's inside my head that makes me love swimming, or at least that was the original reason. Now, I don't just swim for my mind. My body loves it too. I don't just feel physically better and healthier, I am pretty much addicted to it. A couple days of no swim practice kills me and has me feeling like a slug.

Inside my head, I think I've always been a competitive person with everything in general. The reason it never really got me anywhere was because of how negative I was at the same time. I was really hard on myself and constantly compared myself to others.

Now, in swimming, that mindset has affected me tremendously. The one thing that is much much much harder than the physical part is overcoming the attitude and mental issue. I believe being athletic is more mental than physical. Train the mind, and the body will fallow.

I slowly got better as my swimming progressed. One of the largest breaking points in my mental progress was a few months ago at a big home meet. I swam a horrible race where my goggles fell off. It was my first time crying over a race. My coach had to have a talk with me about not letting my races get to my emotions. Though he made his point, ingrained it into my head, and taught me a lesson, he was empathetic and kind about it. My coach knows how to work with his swimmers personally and individually. He knows each one of his swimmers as a father knows each one of his children.

I did not get better instantly, but the situation educated my brain so that I was much more aware of the way I reacted to my races. Not only did a negative attitude destroy me, it made a bad influence on my teammates, especially the younger ones. It was contagious. My coach taught me to climb out of the pool after a not-so-good race, find out what I did wrong, how I could fix it next time, and then forget I even swam it. "If anyone asks about the race afterwards, just say, "what race?'"

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