Written By Aquatics Director of SwimLabs Littleton – Matt Nadel
As a 2-year old in swim lessons, I made sure that everyone at the Denver Jewish Community Center knew that I hated the water. In fact, I screamed so loud that my parents were asked to leave and were refunded the full amount. I know this seems strange coming from a now, Aquatics Director, but luckily my parents persisted and by the time I was 5 years old I had graduated from water wings and was allowed to swim in the deep end of the pool. Swimming only got better as I joined my neighborhood summer team, and I knew from a young age that swimming was special and something different.
As I continued my swimming career I met friends that quickly became the most important and influential people in my life. The long hours of practice through high school and college formed friendships that have long withstood the green hair and goggle tan lines. From first jobs to weddings, teammates are always willing to show-up for one another, no matter that situation. It’s also nice to know that those friends understand what it’s like to have your heart rate over 140 for an entire hour before the sun has risen.
Beyond the fuzzy-feel goods, swimming teaches the most important life-skills that lead to success later in life. First, and most obviously: grit. Now, grit is not to be confused with hard-work. Hard-work doesn’t connotate a sense of longevity, but rather a single or short period of time. On the other hand, grit exemplifies dedication over time, a true devotion to success through millions of repetitions and the desire to always improve. Secondly, time management. It’s well understood that swimmers attain some of the highest grades of any other student-athletes. Between the extended endorphin-release time during a swim workout and the discipline required to practice multiple days each week, swimmers study more effectively and efficiently than other athletes. Similarly, the idea of skipping concerts or birthday parties to ensure you had enough sleep AND finish your homework before a big swim meet tends to become a sense of pride, rather than the expected let-down.
Swimming will always be a supporting pillar in my life, and I can comfortably say that my parents’ decision to endure my wailing as a 2-year old has paid its dividends 10 times over. If you’re on the fence about signing your kids up for swimming, don’t be afraid to take the leap. Start out slow and let them make life-long friends, the rest will fall into place.