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10 Important Life Skills I Learned From Swimming
“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” – Albert Einstein.
After thinking about this Einstein quote for a while, I realized that Einstein was not only referring to the sports game, but also to life and work experiences. My life choice as a swimmer started when I was around 12 years old. I grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere and swimming just meant cooling off in the river on our farm. The farm was too far from town for us to be high school students. Starting high school meant boarding school.
In my freshman year of high school, I did gymnastics, but I injured my ankle and felt doomed because I really would have liked to continue. Physical training in the seventies meant just that – all children at school regardless of ability had to run around the field, play rugby, athletics, swimming, gymnastics, hockey and whatever other sports were available. (I believe that playing sports is optional in schools today).
The school pool had no heaters, which meant that swimming was only a summer activity as the winters were quite cold. There wasn’t even a swim team in 1978, and in general, most female students were looking for a way out of swimming. That wasn’t the case for me – I was in heaven as soon as my body hit the water.
This is where my love for water and swimming began. At first it was just swimming for an hour during PT. Our routine at boarding school included afternoon recess, study hall, sports hour, shower, dinner, late study and lights out – of course a bell rang for each activity. As a water addict, a swim class at PT just wasn’t enough for me. I wanted more, so when all the athletes went to the athletic field, I went back to the pool alone to train a little more. There was no coach, no program, just the pool and the endless laps I swam.
Soon, even two sessions a day were not enough and I started to stay after school for recess before the classroom. 45-minute training, hurry to make the classroom on time. The Western Province in South Africa is a very hot and dry place during the summer. We didn’t have the luxury of air conditioning in the study hall, just those huge ceiling fans that kept saying “Oops, oops” and barely cooled anyone down. Swimming for 45 minutes before class was great – while everyone else was sweating, I felt fresh and could concentrate on studying in the heat.
One day during one of my training sessions, the teacher arrived at the school pool with her two boys, aged about 7 and 5. the teacher arrived and I thought she was going to report me to the director of the boarding school. To my surprise, we started talking and she said that she had completed a training course, so if I wanted, I could train with her two boys. That was music to my ears. The rest became history.
That was 37 years ago. The only time I didn’t swim in these 37 years was when I had injuries, broken fingers, a broken leg and was expecting my baby. Oh, not to forget the time I left for work at 2am and didn’t get home until 9pm that night as a rep. Needless to say, I went to the pool every chance I could regardless of the circumstances, depending on the availability of the pool of course.
Reflecting on this lifelong swim, professional life, and now the job title of Swim Mom, I realize that there is more to swimming than just being active, feeling good about exercise, and of course, controlling your weight. Success in swimming leads to other successes in life. You just need to love the sport and in my opinion, it will contribute to your lifestyle, career and everything else in the following ways:
- Set goals and objectives and work towards them.
- Plan your life and live according to your plan.
- Don’t delay.
- Keep records and interpret results.
- Adjust your plan if and when needed.
- Swim faster and have more time to rest – work smart and you will have free time for personal activities.
- Do it right, then it’s easy – whatever task you take on, normally, if you do it smart and do it right it makes the job easier. If you stroke correctly, it will make the distances you have to train easier.
- Keep your routine.
- Do what you like.
- Enjoy everything you do and the results will speak for themselves.
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