National sports day. Blog 2 : How swimming gave me wings
I was 6 the first time I was taken to a swimming pool. I was terrified, reluctant to even touch the water and was forcefully thrown into the deep end. I landed with a splash and struggled to breathe. After what seemed like an eternity I calmed down and realised that the float would keep me safe and saw my dad smiling at me. I was safe! I started playing with the water instead of fighting it and instantly fell in love with the water. From that moment, swimming became such an important part of my life, that living without it seemed almost impossible.
I decided to start training competitively.
Waking up at 5am for practice, going to school after practice and coming back to the pool in the evening to train hard requires discipline. Balancing school work with swimming is challenging and
time management is imperative. Hard work and discipline is the norm. To find more time to train and study, I often need to sacrifice many things most teenagers love to do like hanging out with my friends and going out to eat my favourite pizzas. I do miss those (and I do have my cheat days, don’t tell my coach).
So as a 14 year old, swimming for the last years, what has swimming / sports taught me?
Handling the joy of success like the time I won my first national gold medal and the disappointment of failure like the time I failed to qualify for the Asian Age group championships even after working harder than ever within a span of days made me realise that Life, contrary to what people believe is quite fair and balances out the good times and bad. I have learned that even after a poor performance, good sportsmanship is important. I have started staying calm after a bad practice and not throwing tantrums despite all my teen hormones telling me to.
People often talk about the hard work that sportsmen and women put in. Every story you read or video montage you see will show it. However, what they don’t show is the heartbreak, even after putting in all that effort, success may not be attained instantaneously. It takes years of effort and perseverance to achieve your goal. This is where resilience comes into play. Everyone continues after achieving success but only the resilient continue even after they fall. Failure has taught me more than my successes, helped me improve my techniques and come back stronger each time.
On a more personal note, being an introverted child, making friends wasn’t easy for me. Having my teammates around motivates me to wake up early in the morning and swim in the freezing cold water. We are of different ages and we all come from different backgrounds and different schools. They provide me with so many different perspectives about different subjects and that always helps me to widen my horizons. I have opened up more after I started travelling for my competitions. When I go to compete at the Nationals, I meet many people from different states, speaking different languages and leading different lifestyles. When I went for the Asian Age group training camp last year, I made friends from different schools and different parts of the country. I could never have imagined I would have an experience like this. More so, I never knew I would actually enjoy it and even learn to speak different languages with them. I have become far more confident because of these interactions. Swimming gave me friends that have been like family - my home away from home.
Being in the tenth grade, stress is something that we face on a daily basis. It is the first of “the most important exam of your life” series. Eight years of competitive sports has taught me to handle pressure and stress. I do not feel as worried about exams as my peers do because sports has trained me to act in high pressure situations.
Over the years, I’ve learnt that Sports isn’t just about being physically strong, it is also about being mentally tough. Sports continues to teach me something new every day. It truly has been, my harshest but my greatest teacher and if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing!
Guest blog credit :
Age 14, Student.
National Gold Medalist - Freestyle Swimming.