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Carolyn Bolden In My Words

Eighteen Hours. My teammates and I have spent more than 18 hours training over our holiday break, and we’re not done yet. Swimming eight miles each day multiple, days in a row isn’t easy, but we’re taking it one practice at a time.

But we’re tired. Our shoulders hurt, our skin is dry, our hair is brittle and our muscles ache. Based on the complaints, groans and grunts coming from the swimmers, it’s hard to believe why any of them stay to put up with holiday break training, commonly referred to as “torture.”

Despite the agony, the team keeps coming back for more, day after day. Every practice hair gets swept into caps, goggles get tightened and we dive in. We know that persevering now helps us reach our goals during championships meets.

But it is more than goal times that keep us going. Whenever I am tempted to sleep in, slow down or hide in the locker room, I look to my teammates who are showing up and charging through the practice sets and they inspire me. There are so many lessons that I’ve learned from competitive swimming, including the realization that a team is only as strong as its weakest link. Even though swimming is often thought of as an individual sport, when one of us is struggling, we rely on others for encouragement.

I can’t imagine many of us actually enjoy staring at the black line at the bottom of the pool for six hours each day. But I know it’s necessary to help me reach my goals, and it certainly is made more tolerable by doing it with some of my best friends.

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