The moment the swimmer steps behind the block, all that matters is the race. Not the past, not the future, only the challenge the swimmer faces in the present. The swimmer mounts the block, grips the slick edges, and braces for the shrill whistle that will send him/herflying into the depths of the water. The real race is between the swimmer, his or her endurance, and the will to compete for victory.
Swimming is typically downplayed as a major sport, but like any other sport, it instills the fundamentals of teamwork, individual improvement, and the application of skill to create overall success. “We have a motto on our team where we say: ‘Consistent, Persistent, Hard work, Overtime, Equals Results, Equals Success,’” said BT boys swim coach and development director, Chuck Oliver. “I think that’s a very good life lesson to learn that you can apply to most anything: if you show up every day and you put the work in, you will get better.”
Athletes who are part of the swim team are not only competing for the benefit of the team, but also for their individual times. What sets swimming apart from most sports is its identity as a team sport that relies mainly on the individual success of the swimmers.
“Swimming is a very individualized sport, but the athletes are competing as a team as well,” said the girls swim coach, Marci Miller. “Many people do not realize how much muscle strength is needed to get through the water at a fast speed. Each stroke also involves technique that is unique to that specific stroke and the lack of continual access to oxygen helps to develop strong lung capacity.”
Once a swimmer dives in for his or her event, he/she can only rely on his/her speed and skills to compete against the nine others contending for the same goal.
Swimming is a sport that can be frustrating and disappointing, like when someone gets disqualified or the top swimmer was four one-hundredths of a second off the state time, but it reflects the message that is imperative for all athletes: overcoming obstacles leads to overall success.
Every sport implements goals to strengthen its athletes and team as a whole, but swimming is unique because it depends on the individual goals set by each swimmer to advance the team. “One of my goals I set in the past was to get a lettering time,” stated Timmy Riordan, a junior on the swim team. “Since I achieved that last year, I created a new goal to get a state time.”
Swimming is both a mental and physical sport that requires intense training to shape swimmers into the mindset of focusing solely on the goal. “The Blessed Trinity swim team has developed as a more competitive and serious team over the past few years,” according to Victoria Masterson, one of the senior captains on the team. “Over the years, the coaches have pushed the team by creating more intense practices and drylands. This has led our team to not only become more successful by placing highly at competitive invitationals, but also at the state level as well.”
Swimming is not only a sport that fosters life lessons for self-discipline and individual achievement, but it is also a lifestyle. It is embraced by those who put their best effort to make swimming a sport that accommodates their skill and personal improvement. “Swimming is all about the experience. I’ll never forget the rush of adrenaline I felt when I got my first high school state-cut time on the 100 Breaststroke because I knew I would be competing against all the top swimmers in the state,” said senior swim captain Madeleine Franchi. “It’s memories like those that make swim team well worth the training, the suffering, and the personal achievement that comes along with racing down the lanes, one stroke at a time.”