For many swimmers and their loved ones Thanksgiving means a day (perhaps even off from the pool?) of gorging, hanging out with family, and taking the opportunity to catch up on some well-deserved sleep.
While stuffing your face full of, err, stuffing, take a moment to be thankful for being a competitive swimmer and all that it has to offer you over the course of your life.
Here are just 9 of the reasons to be thankful for our sport:
1. The results are what they are.
Swimmers deal in seconds, in hundredths of a second, in concrete, measurable terms that can’t be fudged or denied.
Similarly, there are no flukes in swimming. You don’t get a lucky bounce, or a last second hail mary that hits three players before landing in the offensive team’s hands for a score.
The sport provides you an accurate and fib-proof manner in which to measure your performance. Those tenths and hundreds of a second that mark the difference between first and second are accumulated through tiny changes in technique, our swim starts, and our flip turns.
2. Swimmer’s body.
You don’t hear too many other sports with this type of title: Football body, soccer body, or cricket body. The V-shaped back and shoulders is especially unique to swimmers.
With that broad back comes boulder-shaped shoulders, and of course the countless number of laps and hours putting in work in the water gives us those lovely abdominals.
If there is one thing our vanity has to be thankful for this year, it’s our swimmer’s body.
3. It allows you to complete superhuman feats of eating.
With the vast swaths of laps that we cut through, the hours upon hours of staring at the black line, and with exercising in cold water preventing the release of certain appetite-suppressing hormones, we can eat. A lot. Our friends never cease to be amazed, and our parents never cease to be exasperated at the grocery bill.
4. The quietness of an empty pool.
There is nothing better than getting into a quiet pool when the world outside is stressing you out. The pool will always be a refuge from the stress of school and work, of relationship drama, of the pressures and annoyances of day-to-day life.
For a few moments when you slip into the water the world and your problems fade away, leaving just you and the black line.
5. A personal best time.
The swimmer’s taper is a bit of an anxious period of time–“How do I know it is really working?!” But the moment you hit it just right and crush one of your best times is one of the best experiences of the sport.
Finally all of your hard work and those early mornings crystallize into a swim that that has you swimming faster than you have ever gone in your whole life.
6. Swim parents.
As we sit around the Thanksgiving table this year we will be doing so with our parents. Beyond the duties of trying to raise us into being contributing members of society, they are also swim parents, which means they have also acted as leader of the carpool, official, towel-dryer, food distributor, and their most important role in our swimming career, cheerleader.
7. No matter what pool you go to, it is home away from home.
No matter what facility you go to, on whichever corner of the globe, the moment you climb into the familiar feeling of a suit and goggles, and then hop into a chlorinated container of water, you can’t help but feel like you are home.
8. The people we share the lane with every single day–our teammates.
Sure, there are times that our fellow swimmers might drive us a little crazy, like when they don’t follow the interval properly, or push off right after we do, or absent-mindedly swim down the middle of the lane.
But they are also the ones with a spare set of goggles the moment yours break behind the blocks, the first to stand up and cheer for you, and the first to offer a shoulder after a disappointing swim.
9. Our swim coach.
Granted, the relationship with our swim coaches can be tumultuous at times. (Especially when they add an extra set at the very end of our swim practice when there is only, like, ten minutes left.)
But there’s no doubt that they have pushed us to be better, even if we resisted at times more than was necessary. They give us the opportunity to push ourselves and to see firsthand that we are more capable than we’d ever thought possible.
They have also been there for us when we came up short on our goals, provided direction when we felt lost, and celebrated with us when we finally succeeded.
What reasons do you have to be thankful for swimming this year? Let me know on Twitter, I would love to hear from you.