Tuesday, May 19, 2015

On Being "Lucky"

I got a comment from a friend yesterday about how I am "lucky" that I'm able to swim. I'm pretty sure I understand what she meant, because I've had similar feelings about those little gals who run a lot faster than I do. I've thought, with a hint of jealousy, about how "lucky" they are. But the reality is that the vast majority of those gals have been running most of their lives. And they probably eat less than I do. Those things aren't luck. They are choices.

To be honest, it bugs the crap out of me when people call me "lucky". I remember when I graduated college and landed my first teaching job. My grandma told me I was lucky. And immediately I thought, NO. I am not lucky that I got that job! I worked my ass off in college and graduated with a 4.0 with a degree in Elementary Education. I took jobs working in after school care positions so I would have something about experience with kids to put on my resume. I sent in a lot of job applications and prepared for my interviews and showed up on time and did everything that was expected of me (and more!). I didn't feel lucky that I'd landed a job. I felt I'd earned it. There is a difference.

Back to swimming. I didn't learn to actually swim until I was 8. I don't remember a lot about that time except that my mom told me she felt bad that she'd waited so long to put me in swim lessons. I got put into the beginner "Minnows" group with all the 5 year olds because that's the level I was at. I learned how to swim that summer and competed in the 8&U division at the swim meets, swimming 25's. I have no memory of how any of that went, but I do know I looked forward to summer every year because it meant I could go back to morning swim workouts.

I continued that summer league swimming through middle school... I'd ride my bike by myself to the pool every morning, do everything that was expected of me at swim practice, then was a pool rat for the rest of the day before riding my bike home in time for dinner. I was never the most talented swimmer but I worked hard and never skipped out on anything. This continued though high school as well. In high school we practiced every day after school. I remember our coach opening up morning swim practices. Some parents thought that was too much (including my own mom), so coach made them optional. I always opted to attend. I got a huge sense of satisfaction from adding up how much I swam each day. Between the two practices it was often 7-8K/day. Am I lucky that I chose to do that? Maybe just lucky in the sense that I enjoyed it?

I do remember feeling a sense of jealousy toward the gals on the team who were more talented than I was. I really wasn't as fast as my friends on that team but I made up for it by working really hard and being willing to swim the events that the others didn't want to do. That's why I swam fly. And the 500. It's where I found I could shine, but only because no one else wanted to swim those events!

I took ~3 years away from swimming as I focused on my collegiate diving career (I had more talent for diving than I did for swimming, so diving paid for my college. No swim coach would have given me a scholarship to swim on his/her team.) But eventually I went back to swimming and joined an adult 'masters' group which rekindled my love for the sport. Since then, I don't think there have been many weeks where I didn't swim at least 3x. I used to teach math but adding up all the swimming I have done in my lifetime would be a pretty near impossible task. Let's just say it's been A LOT. I'd guess I average 10-15k/week now, depending on the time of year. I don't take extended breaks away from the water. I don't skip swim sessions. I don't cut sessions short. I time everything I do. I write detailed notes about every main set I swim.

33 years of consistent work. Does that make me lucky?

1 comment:

Liz Weidling said...

i love this!!!!!! i too was a swimmer who was never quite as fast as the fast kids - but you sure learn to show up and shut up and just work hard regardless :) How many intervals i flipped through trying to keep up....teaches you to find a way!!! great blog.