The Balancing Act: We Need to Sort out Our Priorities

The Balancing Act is a new column about balancing high school and swimming which will come out once every two weeks. Thanks Pine Crest’s Dani Gomez.

The Balancing Act: We Need to Sort out Our Priorities


By Dani Gómez
Photos by Michael Lyn

High school. Swimming. Other activities. Social life. As student-athletes, we are expected to juggle at least two of the above to a certain degree of success. It would be a lie to say that it’s an easy feat, but it’s definitely not impossible to do well in academics, swimming, and other endeavors without going absolutely bonkers. Even though summer’s in full swing, now is a good time to think about how the upcoming school year will be better than the last by finding a better balance between swimming and just about everything else.

Part of the difficulty of juggling swimming and a high school life is the level of commitment swimming requires. Once you enter a certain level with morning practices, expensive suits, three to five-day meets, and intense training, the sport can easily take over your life. From missing parties to losing sleep, to giving up other commitments, we are constantly having to make sacrifices for our sport. It’s often difficult to choose which activities take priority over others.

Take me for instance.

A naïve rising freshman, last year I loaded up on rigorous classes (my first AP! included) and electives as well as opting for three-times-a-week morning practices, thinking I could handle the challenge. Throughout middle school, I had always prized myself on my versatility. I participated in swimming, chorus, orchestra, piano lessons, cheerleading, art club, drama, an environmental club, and every year’s school musical among other activities. Little did I know that entering high school with similar expectations I was signing myself up for much more than even my extremely busy middle school career could prepare me for.

Long story short, it was a tough year. I suffered academically and in the pool. In my classes I did well but I know I can do so much better. In the pool, I trained hard but my effort did not translate into best times. I realized as the year closed that spreading myself too thin made the year less rewarding than what I had envisioned. I know that swimming makes me happy when I’m upset, calms me when I’m angry, and gives me a feeling of power that nothing else does. For me, the choice is obvious: swimming is at the top of my list.

As I make swimming a top priority, the mistake I cannot make is to think that I am locked into swimming and can do absolutely nothing else. That’s not true either. I’m still a singer, a pianist, and a violinist, and believe me, I’m hardly the best in the time management game. We all have to learn to prioritize according to our individual needs and limits, which we have to find ourselves by trial and error. What was overwhelming for me might be just right for someone else. So really, it’s okay to push yourself a bit too far. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fall short, but to learn how to best prioritize, we have to take the first shot in the dark.

“I’ll tell you the problem … It didn’t require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn’t earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don’t take any responsibility for it.” ~Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park


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