Mike's Mailbag: Friendly Times

Mike's Mailbag: Friendly Times

By Mike Gustafson//Contributor  | Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Every week, I answer questions from swimmers around the country. If you have a question, please email me at swimmingstories@gmail.com.


Dear Mike,

A girl joined my team last winter, and she's really fast. Her times are a lot better than mine. Lately we've been becoming closer friends, but I still feel sort of jealous. When I finish swimming an event, we ask each other what our times were, and her times are always so much faster than mine. One time, I got a 1:01 for 100 free, but she went a 54 and I felt really bad. I don't know what to do! Help!



Hi Caught,


When I was younger, a really, really fast kid joined our swim team. At first, I was jealous. I wanted to be as fast as he was. I wanted to win. Now, it seemed like I would always be playing second fiddle.

Then I realized: What if I learned from him? Instead of feeling envious, what if I felt excited? What if I asked him questions — and viewed having a really fast person on my swim team as an advantage rather than a hindrance?

My entire experience changed. I began to root him on. I began to learn from him. I asked him questions — “Can you show me how to dive how you dive?” or “What do you think I should do to drop time here?” And he always helped me out.

We ended up being training partners throughout high school. And he was one of my best friends. And we ended up going 1-2 at the high school state championships.

My point is, this really, really fast person on your team? Learn from her. Ask her questions. Try to keep up with her in practice. And cheer and root her on just like you would want her to do for you.

I learned a long time ago that there will always be someone faster. There will always be someone a little taller, a little quicker, a little stronger. And I can’t control that. I can only control what I can control.

You can’t control how fast your friend swims. You can only control how fast you swim, and how you interact with other people. So, try your best: Learn from those people who are faster than you. Watch them in practice and at meets, and put your heart into practice when you are practicing and into racing when you are racing. But most importantly: Just be a good teammate and a good friend.

When you’re old and retired like me, you really won’t remember times that much. You will only remember the times with your friends.

I hope this helps.



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