By Mike Gustafson//Correspondent | Wednesday, November 22, 2017
The other day, at my local YMCA, I was floating on my back, looking at the ceiling ducts. The air was humid and heavy, but I was weightless and wandering, just fluttering with my feet at the end of a lap swim session.
I couldn’t help but feel guilty.
We live on a planet where a billion people don’t have access to clean water, and over two billion don’t have access to sanitation systems. And yet here I was, floating around in an entire pool filled with water, clean and pure, with an air system, water pump system, and purification system designed to make sure I don’t get sick as I swim.
It’s easy to take this for granted. Especially once it’s routine: We drive to a pool, hop in, lap up and down, dry off, and don’t think anything of it. Instead of contemplating the miracle of what we just did, we think back to our own struggles within this world of ours: Lack of a personal best time, lack of effort, lack of motivation.
This Thanksgiving, instead of contemplating all those little things about our sport — upcoming swim meets, past swim sets, routine difficulties, perfecting starts, a particular turn — how about we pause and give thanks to someone in our sport that meant something to us. Because there are so many. As you’re reading this now, think about that one person who helped you in this sport, that one person who believed in you when no one else did, or that one person who offered a kind word after a bad race, or that one person who lifted you up when you were feeling down.
Swimming is largely referred to as an “individual sport,” but nothing could be less true: This sport is filled with people helping people, teammates helping teammates, coaches helping coaches.
Swimming is a team sport, and for that, we are thankful.
So, think about that one person who helped you, and write that person a small note of thanks. Here are a few places to start:
Our coaches, for continuously working hard to make sure we succeed, for listening to us, for cheering for us when we’re swimming well, for encouraging us when we’re swimming not-so-well, and for making us not only better swimmers, but better people.
Our swim families, for always being the loudest voice in the stands, for sometimes being the *only* voice in the stands, for always saying, “Job well done,” even though we may not have always done the best job, for dropping us off to morning practice before the sun comes up, for financially allowing us to pursue this activity, and for being our built-in support network.
Our officials and meet volunteers, for always giving free time so we can enjoy this sport, for being fair and honest, for helping out when help is needed, and for being professional.
Our teammates, for pushing us to work harder, for telling jokes when we all need to laugh, for cheering when we all need some cheers, and for motivating us when we all need some motivation. For being friends, competitors, and teammates on this journey.
Our personal best times, for always being there as a guiding motivational force.
Our worst times, for always being there as a guiding motivational force.
And ourselves, for not quitting, for never giving up, for finding new boundaries, new goals, new expectations, and new limits, for confidence, for belief, and for keepin’ on swimming.