Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Why Does It Matter?

Why do you swim? Every time I ask that question to any group I'll get a variety of answers (My parents make me, exercise, its fun, I want to win a medal at the Olympics... etc). I guess everyone has their own reasons and I'm sure that my reason to start swimming with ROW in September of 1987 was a solid combination of all 3 (Victor Davis had won Olympic medals while swimming for ROW in 1984, so it seemed possible).

I was a pretty awkward swimmer with little talent when I started at age 8. Sadly, I'm pretty sure that I failed to make a mark on anyone. My first swim meet in October of 1988, I could be found crying in the corner as my mom wept for me up in the stands (I credit my mom for allowing me to figure this out for my self and not getting involved. Coach Nancy helped me feel better and got me moving. She was the first coach that really made an impact on me and I'll never forget it). Slowly, I progressed, pushed by the faster athletes around me and trying to make it into the senior group, which contained several National medalists and Olympic prospects. The swimmers that I swam with in that period made a major lasting impact on me which have enriched my life in so many ways.

Recently, the world lost one of those swimmers who I looked up to when I was a young swimmer at ROW. David Hare was such a vibrant guy who was always making people laugh (especially me). He was a guy who I wanted to be like. Losing him reminded me of all of the relationships I had built in the span of 22 years that I have been involved in the sport. Many people have come together in mourning to celebrate what a great guy Dave was and how much of an impact he had on us and our lives. Even though I hadn't spoken to David in a few years, his loss feels very significant to me.

I guess the reason I'm glad that I swam wasn't necessarily the end point of where I got to or where I could have gone, but the journey along the way and the impact these people had on me... and the impact I have had on them.

So why does it matter? A very small percentage of swimmers will make an Olympic team; an even smaller percentage will win medals. Parents could potentially make you do anything to stay in shape. Sure its fun, but so are video games.

The best way I can answer the question why does it matter?

It matters because swimmers are great people with great character. It matters because you surround yourself with great people. It matters because you meet major physical, mental and emotional challenges. It matters because it lasts longer than 3 months and it lasts longer than a high school career. It matters because you will meet your David Hare who made you want to be someone better and it matters because you can be that David Hare to someone else. Swimming Matters. The people in it matter.

You influenced me more than you know, David Hare. R.I.P.