It is often said that swimming is a full-time job. Between homework, school, practice, and sleep, we don’t have much time for anything else. Swimming consumes so much of our lives and requires so much commitment that I personally believe it resembles something more like a very needy partner, rather than an occupation. Think about it. Most competitive swimmers have been in a serious, long-term, committed relationship with the sport for a majority of their lives. We dedicate our mornings, nights, and most weekends to spending time with it, and tend to plan our entire lives around our practice schedule.

Why do we do this? Because, like with a needy girlfriend/boyfriend, we need to completely invest ourselves in the relationship or things will begin to go wrong. This means prioritizing the sport above your friends and social life, no matter how boring it makes your life seem. Some people cannot handle this level of commitment, so they “break up” with swimming. But for the select group of people who are willing to put in the work, they will reap the benefits at the end of the season. We have all gone through our ups and downs in our relationship with swimming, but we stick together for one simple reason. We love it. Nothing compares to the excitement of suiting up for finals at the state meet, or getting your first junior national cut. When you walk into the finals session of a championship meet and feel the buzz of warm up and smell the chlorine, you know that love is in the air.

Think back to when we were young swimmers and every meet was fun and exciting. You drop ten seconds in every race and life was stress-free. Channel your eight-year-old swimmer self and love the sport the way you did before all of the pressure, time standards, and high expectations were added. That’s how we should love it every day anyway. Like it’s a brand new relationship that’s fresh before all of the fights and disagreements start.

So even though our social lives are limited, we are not loners on Valentine’s Day. We get to spend time doing what we love every day and do not have to depend on anyone else to bring that type of happiness into our lives. Don’t get me wrong, having a boyfriend/girlfriend is not a bad thing, but not having one is not worth letting single awareness day get you down. Be proud of the fact that you have been able to stick with this sport for so long, put a rose at the end of your lane, and try to enjoy your practice a little extra on Tuesday night.

Written by Brady Estrada