By Mike Gustafson//Contributor | Wednesday, January 3, 2018Every Monday online atsftest.usaswimming.org and inside each issue of Splash Magazine, I answer questions from swimmers around the country. If you have a question you'd like answered, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll do my best to answer.
I am currently a swimmer on a club swim team and I am trying to figure out if I should quit or not. See, I dread the practices and the meets but I really enjoy the people. Well, not all of them, but most. So when I think about quitting, I think that my life really wouldn't be the same without swimming. But I can't really figure out if that would be good or bad. I want to quit, but I don't want to quit because I couldn't imagine life without it. I just really dread going but some of it's fun. What do you think I should do?
Hey Confused Swimmer,
I recently read a study that showed that most people dread getting up in the morning for work, and I almost fell out of my chair. We've designed a society where most people just dread getting up. My advice is, do your absolute best to not be like most people.
How can you not dread what you do?
For starters, life a live with passion, and follow that passion with relentless determination. If you really don't enjoy swimming anymore, you should probably find something else that you actually do enjoy. If you quit, you may not have the same kind of teammate experiences you've so enjoyed, but you can't live life with dread for the activities you choose to do.
I want to emphasize that last point: Swimming is a choice, like everything else in life. You have a choice to either swim or not swim. But if you choose to swim, do so passionately. Don't choose something and then dread it every single day. That makes no sense. If you dread it, make a change. That's the beauty with choices -- you can choose something different.
I also want to say that throughout my swimming experiences, there was occasional dread. I occasionally dreaded practices. I occasionally dreaded swim meets. I occasionally dreaded my best event, the 400 IM. Every January, I dreaded walking to practice through the snow. But this dread? It was occasional.
You must decide: Is your dread occasional? Or is it every day? Can you change your attitude? Your attitude is a choice, and when I chose to focus on the aspects of meets and practices I didn't dread -- pushing myself, goal setting, overcoming obstacles -- I found more joy.
If your dread is occasional, find joy where you can, and focus on that.
But if your dread is every single minute of every single day, make a change. You only live life once. You only have one chance to be a teenager or younger athlete. If in your heart you know swimming isn't for you, and you are only in it for the friendships, I would consider doing something else.
However, Confused Swimmer, it sounds like you do have some fun in the sport. It sounds like you are experiencing what every swimmer experiences time to time -- occasional dread. In which case, I would focus on the aspects you enjoy, find joy where you can, breathe, relax, and appreciate this sport for what it is -- just a sport. Remember why you joined this sport in the first place, what was fun about it when you were younger, and embrace that.
I hope this helps.