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“Cold weather means nothing. Rainy days don’t matter. And a national holiday means two practices instead of one.”
Although the author is unknown to me, that quote has been my mantra for the past several years. Most people look forward to a holiday, viewing it as a well deserved time to relax and take a break from their normal routine of work or school. I, however, look forward to a holiday because it gives me the opportunity to work harder at what I love best: swimming.
Swimming has been the constant in my life from which all else, except class time, is structured. My practice schedule dictates when I sleep, rise, eat, and study. It puts limitations on my social activities, increases the mileage on the odometer of my Honda Civic, and allows me to consume more calories than the average teenager without expanding my waistline.
My life’s passion even inspired my choice of a part-time job. Although lifeguarding may not be my ultimate career choice, it has been a wonderful learning experience. Besides earning money, it allows me to put my swimming skills to good use and just knowing that I have the potential to save a life is rewarding. I have also learned many lifetime skills such as responsibility and cooperation by being accountable for my shifts and working together with the other lifeguards. It has been convenient to work and practice at the same location, especially on those holidays when the workouts are doubled.
Swimming has also helped me to develop good leadership traits. I am the male captain of my year round swim team and also a senior captain on the high school team. As captain, it is my responsibility to set a good example for the younger swimmers who look up to me. That means that even if my muscles are screaming with each contraction, I need to ignore the pain and put forth my best effort. Also, I need to encourage my teammates to work to their potential.
To achieve one’s potential, goals must be set. Swimming has also taught me to set goals in my life. I believe every young swimmer dreams of going to the Olympics. I did too when I was younger, but since then I have learned it is better to set your goals in smaller and more realistic increments. For instance, my first swimming accomplishment was to qualify for state. My next achievement was to become a state champion, and then even the highpoint winner for the state meet. Sectionals, a meet with competition from the northwestern United States, followed. At that meet I made three Junior National cuts and moved a little bit higher up the ladder of USA swimming. There were a few setbacks along the way though. The summer after I made Junior Nationals I had a disappointing meet even though I had trained really hard. Although I was discouraged, I never gave up and so learned a lesson in perseverance. Finally, last summer I was able to achieve US Open cuts and a Senior National qualifying time which really opened the doors to college swimming for me.
Collegiate swimming at a top academic Division I school has been my high school dream. I have worked hard both academically and athletically to accomplish that goal. The day I signed my National Letter of Intent to attend the University of California at Santa Barbara was a dream come true. It seems like everything I know I learned from swimming. It is that talent along with my other lifetime skills that I will bring to the University of California.
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