Learning heroism through swimming

Samantha Dammann reflects on how swimming has helped her to find her own courage and heroism.

Freshman+Samantha+Dammann+reflects+on+how+swimming+has+helped+her+to+find+her+own+courage+and+heroism.+%7C+Jenny+Oetzell%2FTHE+CHIMES

Freshman Samantha Dammann reflects on how swimming has helped her to find her own courage and heroism. | Jenny Oetzell/THE CHIMES

Samantha Dammann, Writer

Freshman Samantha Dammann reflects on how swimming has helped her to find her own courage and heroism. | Jenny Oetzell/THE CHIMES

 

Whether it was Indiana Jones, Nancy Drew or Superman, we all had someone whose shoes we dreamed of filling. We loved our heroes due to their extraordinariness; they did things we did not think were possible. We dreamed about solving a mystery, or saving the day, and it was difficult to accept that we probably never would.

Then we embarked on a journey. We found ourselves thinking, “If I can’t be that extraordinary, then what good am I?” Competitive swimming has influenced my life tremendously because it has let me find my own heroism, and shown me that you do not have to save the world to make a difference. In a unique way, sports show us the extraordinary bits inside of us, and give us the courage to use them.

Swimming has shown me the importance of trying, especially in the face of fear. Competitive swimming is full of the unknown, which is terrifying. When I walk into practice I have no idea what sets my coach will have me do, how many yards I will have to swim or how completely exhausted I will feel an hour in. For sanity’s sake swimming has forced me to take things one moment at a time and shown me the futility of succumbing to fear.

The only way to overcome fear is by facing it. In swimming this means getting in the water and giving it your all. I may not always make an interval, or finish a set, heck, I might even throw up. But at least I tried, and in trying I prove I am stronger than my fears.

A close second to the day I realized chocolate milk was actually a recovery drink is the day I realized swimming was making me a strong person. Looking back, I see how God has used swimming to teach me about dealing with hard things. Pushing my body through physical pain, and doing things that flat out scare me has made me mentally strong. Getting up at five in the morning every weekday has taught me how to deal with exhaustion. Trusting my coaches with their plans for the season has reminded me to trust God with his plans for my life. Being on a team has helped me learn how to encourage people and genuinely rejoice with them in spite of personal circumstances. So many aspects of swimming have given me wisdom, and it never ceases to amaze me that something so physical can have so many spiritual benefits.

The 1980 “Miracle on Ice” did not captivate a nation because a group of super-humans did the impossible. That hockey game became legendary because a group of average joes worked hard enough to overcome the odds. Swimming has given me the courage to overcome my own odds by teaching me that choosing to try is the most heroic thing a person can do.

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