Jennifer J, a 14-year old swimmer at Crawfish Aquatics in Louisiana, wanted to enter a local writing contest, and she could think of no better topic than the sport that she lives and loves. She put together the following piece where her goal is to explain to an outsider this sport that we’re crazy about and still drives us crazy.
What is water? Some people say we can’t live without it. We need it for survival. It is their enemy. It is their friend. It is unpredictable and wild, yet it is tame and inviting. Water… so undefinable. But to me, the pool is my home, the water is my best friend, hard work is my passion, and swimming is my life. An outsider to the sport would call us insane for staring at a black line for hours on end, but really it’s much more than that.
I began swimming two years ago. I thought it would be fun and great exercise, little did I know that I would soon be addicted to it and never turn away. I was definitely not a natural, I slowly worked my way up the list, and I am now on an exclusive community team that is the defending state champions. I’ve been through everything you can imagine- injuries, losses, wins, friendships, enemies, sickness- yet I would never trade the lessons I learned from that for the world. Truly, swimming is a great sport. At one meet you might be ranked number one, then at the next you may finish last. It is such a fast-moving sport.
Every true swimmer has the will to work hard and get better every single day. It’s this that pushes you through those grueling practices where you just want to pass out; it’s what makes you spend an unfathomable amount of time in the pool just to shave off a millisecond in your next race; it’s what consumes your thoughts every second of the day to just achieve that unimaginable goal time. This is why swimming is not for the feeble-minded. It is the most mentally challenging thing I have ever done. You must train your hardest to overcome your fastest enemy who may as well be your best friend in the lane next to you. Swimming is simply unbelievable.
I never knew I had such a strong passion for swimming until this summer. I spent more than 100 hours in the pool this summer and made some of the best memories of my life. It was worth getting up at 6:00 AM to train for hours a day instead of having tons of sleepovers with my friends. It was worth spending my summer going to two practices a day instead of going on fancy, luxury vacations all over the world. I made friendships that will last a life time and have discovered more things about myself than I ever thought was possible. This summer I found the will to succeed and never give up. I found it in the water.
I can apply this to any aspect of my life which is the amazing thing about swimming. When you are swimming a long set and feel like you are going to drown, this is where the champions are made.
Beneath the water is a different, complete world. It’s almost impossible to describe every aspect of it. I feel alive under the water. I feel free. I feel at home. I feel like myself. But most importantly I feel that my desire for success is greater than my fear of failure.
Everyone should learn how to swim. Swimming gives a wide range of benefits for people of all age groups. It can help prevent calamities from happening and is a great way to stay active. It is a simple and affordable way to keep busy year round and have a great deal of fun. Many people begin swimming as a child and become very passionate about the sport as they grow up, and some even swim professionally.
Knowing how to swim can avoid many injuries and accidents from occurring. Although there is lots of fun to be had in the water, it can be dangerous for those who are not capable to keep themselves afloat. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children between the ages of one and fourteen, according to a document published by the Centers for Disease Control in 2003. Are these deaths preventable? Absolutely. Everyone should at least have a basic skill to keep their head above water and ideally the ability to help save someone else if they are in trouble.
Swimming can be a great way to make friends and meet new people. Joining the local swim team is a popular activity among children and teens. While there, they are able to spend time with friends and even meet new ones while maintaining an active lifestyle. Many kids spend their summers at pools or beaches. These are wonderful ways to relax and have fun, but beaches and pools can be very dangerous for those who are unable to keep themselves afloat. It is not necessary to master difficult strokes. Knowing a simple freestyle or even the “doggie paddle” will be adequate to make the water a much safer place. Children from non-swimming households are eight times more likely to be at-risk of drowning, according to the USA Swimming Foundation as of 2009.
Swimming is a common way to stay healthy and maintain an active lifestyle. Swimming has also become a major part of many physical therapy routines for those recovering from surgery or injuries. According to Livestrong.com, when compared to running, swimming burns approximately 89 percent of the calories burned during running. Elderly people can also benefit from swimming and other water related exercises because it is a low impact activity which decreases their chance of injury or joint stress.
Some might dispute that swimming is a waste of time or that it is an unnecessary pursuit but, they have the wrong impression. As swimming is not only a popular and enjoyable pastime, it also has numerous benefits. Learning how to swim is important for everyone and it should not be overlooked. The process of learning to swim is a great way for younger children to gain independence and confidence in their own abilities. It teaches them that if they try hard they can accomplish a task all on their own and gives them the ability to stay safe in the water at the same time.
Everyone should give swimming a try at least once in their life. It might not become a lifelong passion for everyone but it will for a select few. And no matter how someone feels about swimming, they will at least have gained a valuable ability and can now safely enjoy the many other water sports and activities. So, to sum everything up, everyone can benefit from learning how to swim.