Swimmers are unrelenting. Swimmers are tireless. Swimmers are resolute.
Swimmers can be described as many things and have many positive characteristics that make them unique athletes. Swimmers do things that other athletes would consider impossible. They wake up earlier, train longer, and repeat a process over and over with the hopes of seeing continuous results. And they do this for years! Aside from a few outliers, swimmers do not usually see success in the pool right away. It takes them a very long time to achieve their goals. Practice makes perfect. But, sometimes, perfect still is not good enough.
So what brings an individual to train for hours and put themselves through such a demanding and taxing process? Intrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation is defined as performing an action or behavior that is driven by internal rewards. The opposite of intrinsic is extrinsic, which would be motivation for the sake of some external outcome.
Swimmers must find their greatest motivation from within. Here are some reasons why:
- The pool is cold 99.9% of the time.
- There is a very slim chance of becoming a professional swimmer.
- “Fans” are only interested in the Olympics… and Michael Phelps.
- Some of a swimmer’s greatest accomplishments may go unnoticed by even his or her closest peers.
- The pressure is overwhelming. Swimmers train endlessly for races that may only last from 20 seconds to 2 minutes.
- Swimming is mentally exhausting. It takes a high level of concentration and a constant, full-body awareness.
- Swimmers spend hours in a confined, 25×50 meter space with only a black line to follow.
Why is Swimming Worth It?
These are just a few examples of challenges a swimmer faces on a daily basis. But with challenges aside, swimming may be the most rewarding sport for individuals to take part in. After all the early mornings, ripped swim caps, and endless swim sets, it all feels worth it when a goal is accomplished. And it is this sense of accomplishment that feeds this inner motivation. The second after a swimmer surpasses a goal, it again is “not enough.” They want more. They become eager to reach higher and higher and feel their limits be pushed. They want to make their presence known in a tight community that appreciates hard work, dedication, and a love for the water.
Do not let the obstacles of swimming keep you from enjoying your time in the pool. Your hard work will pay off this season and it’s a great feeling to see yourself and your teammates reach their goals!