Lap after lap. 3, 4, 5 kilometers a day in the pool. Day after day…week after week…month after month.
At 9 years old, wanted to be world champion. Forgoing parties, events and other fun things.
In the water, lap after lap after lap. 20 meters…50 meter lengths.
School holidays and other holidays – the same.
Personal times for her 50 meter and 100 meter pet events kept dropping… So did the times of her other events. Kept on improving. Kept moving up the heats… From the 1st heat in the very beginning… Kept moving up the heat charts. When she reached the last 3 heats in her events at each championship race, the state athletes at that time started paying attention to her. A new kid on the block as competition.
13 years old. A big responsibility added on. Selected to represent the state team. Swim and training was now an average 9 times a week (twice each on Saturday and Sunday).
Kept on at it. Times kept improving. Was a contributor towards the team’s many championship wins. Within a short period of time, reached the top 3 in the country for her age group. Broke individual and relay records all along the way.
Graduated from high school. Went on to further her studies in the U.S.
Was on the university’s swimming team. Helped the university move up the swim charts. Set individual and relay records for the university.
There were many ups and downs, bumpy roads, disappointments, total excitement and joy throughout her swim athlete, school and university story. She held fast to her belief in herself and her goals. She had fun. It was not so much just about the “winning”. It was the “experiences” take away: winning yes, also teamwork, sharing and building relationships with various people along the way.
The role of parents? Support, love, care, support. Always be enthusiastic for your children. Driving them to 3-hour daily training and then back.
As parents, we have to continuously encourage them, even on the days they may be tempted by non-athletes to skip training. My wife and I use to tell our daughter, “your fiercest competitor will be training while you are thinking of missing it. The decision is yours. What is the end result you want?”
Be with them, cheering them on; even if it means spending 15 hours at a swim meet, each day on a three- or four-day championship.
Past and current swim athletes, when looking back; can relate to this “grueling lifestyle” during their swim career. When looking back they can smile, joke about the times their energy was completely spent and they still had 25 meters of the race to go, times when they lost and the many times when they won both in the pool and out of the pool. About the times they literally had fun.
Now, graduated – B. Sc. Entrepreneurship. Looking for a job in the U.S. With 16 years of swim athlete experience and an Entrepreneurship studies degree; she wants to share her experiences by applying them in the work that she will be doing.
Now, she takes with her a way of discipline in doing things, a “never give up” character and the bright side of things when she goes employment hunting.
~ Dedicated to Laura Atkinson
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