1. Have fun. Don’t take things too seriously. Swimming is too stressful if you do. If you aren’t having fun with it, you won’t be successful. Having fun makes practices a lot easier to get through, especially with open water workouts.
2. Consider all your options. At first I didn’t have an open mind about open water swimming. I was like, “Why would I do that?” Once I thought about it, I decided, “I might as well.” Though there are a lot of differences, in the end it was really just like adding another event.
3. Make the most of each experience. When you go on trips for meets, you can meet a lot of people. In the open-water community, everyone knows each other. One of the big differences between pool and open water is that in open water we all talk about the race afterward. There’s a lot more dialogue among the athletes than when we go to pool events. And with the courses, water temperature, and crowded fields, there is a lot to talk about. So it’s a lot more exciting after each race sitting down with a big group and catching up on it all.
4. Always take care of your body. I am not always the healthiest eater, but as an athlete I have to constantly be aware of taking care of my body as much as I can. This includes knowing that during the season I have to get a lot of sleep, especially if I have hard classes that carry a huge workload. Actually, when you are at your busiest, that’s when it’s most important to pay attention to what your body needs, because the shape you are in can easily unravel.
5. Swimming is awesome, but so is the rest of your life. Keep some balance in your life. Going to college and getting an education is important to me. Being part of a college team has helped me develop skills as a teammate that will help me long after I am done competing. Stay close to the people who you care about, especially your family and friends, because when you see them again, knowing them so well you will be able to see how you have changed. Keeping that balance in your life, and realizing that swimming, school and friendships all work hand-in-hand is important so you don’t lose perspective.