Staying Positive in the Face of Adversity

By Fitter and Faster Staff

Many swimmers across the country have trained hard all season only to have their championship meets canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a frustrating, scary, and difficult time for everyone around the world. 

We asked our clinicians about how they remain positive in the face of adversity. Here’s what they had to say:

AUSTIN SURHOFF

“All things – good or bad – come to an end.”

This is one of the most important pieces of advice I’ve gotten in my lifetime, and I am reminded of it every day because one of my fellow coaches at Hopkins has it taped to the wall in her office.

What does it mean? It means, just keep moving and controlling what you can control. If something good happens, it will eventually be over and that will be it, so enjoy that good thing while you can. 

But that goes for bad things too. If you’re going through a tough time, or there’s scary things happening around you, eventually those tough times and those scary things will be over. Even if we don’t know exactly when that will be, we can trust that it will happen. 

This virus may be scary, and it may be causing a lot of changes. It’s also preventing a lot of people from doing things they’ve worked really hard for. But all we can do in response is accept the circumstances, and keep moving forward in a way that keeps us safe. Even if we don’t know exactly when this will pass, time will keep moving, and this, like all things, will come to an end.

CLARK SMITH:

Having apathy for the situations you cannot control is the greatest skill the sport can teach you.

MADDY BANIC: 

Swimming is full of adversity. We miss cuts, meets get cancelled, we get injured right before a big meet, we get out-touched by 0.01 second. Swimming rarely has a fairytale book ending, any swimmer can tell you that. 

We don’t always get the result we want but nothing can take away all the work we put into achieving our goals. There’s a saying, that the journey is more important than the destination, and I really believe this to be true. All those countless hours, those tough sets, early mornings, missed school dances and spring breaks, that discipline and commitment shapes you into the athlete you are. 

So for those of you going through some adversity right now, keep your heads high and eyes on the goal. Trust the process, remember you are shaped through the journey and keep fighting to be the best you can be!

KIM VANDENBERG

Many things are out of our control, I think it’s really important to remain flexible and open minded during these times of uncertainty while living in the unknown

KRISTY KOWAL

One of the hardest things an athlete can encounter is staying positive when things get tough or there are circumstances out of your control.Remember that having a bad race or having to miss a meet is only one event in the LONG career in swimming that you will have, it’s just one chapter in the whole story. Trust the process and keep focusing on the day to day progress that you are making during training. Control what you can control which is continue to work hard and stay positive so that you are prepared when it’s GO TIME! All of your hard work will pay off in the long run. 

GLENN SNYDERS

There are things you can control and things you cannot control, not just in swimming but in life. Focusing on your goals, short and long term will give swimmers a reason to move forward. Remembering why we swim and why we love swimming are the most important goals we have, especially during those hard times. Swimmers go through many ups and downs and staying positive, believing in yourself, your work ethic and your ability are crucial components for a swimmers mindset. Trust the process.

AMY BILQUIST

Staying positive in the face of a setback is tough! It’s okay to recognize it is hard but it is more important to acknowledge it and move on with a positive attitude. You may not be able to reach a small goal because you’ve had a setback or a meet has been cancelled but you can still achieve your larger goals. Not reaching one goal doesn’t mean you failed or there’s more goals that you can’t meet and achieve.

NICK THOMAN: 

Now is a great time to practice getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. When you go to a meet, there are many things you cannot control as an athlete. But what we CAN do is learn not to care as much about what we can’t control. 

Trust the journey and the hardest work pays back the most in the end.

TYLER MESSERSCHMIDT

Whether it’s an injury, sickness, or just plain battling your mind, staying positive is one of the hardest things to do. If you can practice being mindful and breaking things down individually, it can become easier to navigate tough times. 

For example, when I was still swimming competitively and I would feel sick or have a day where my body and/or mind would not be in the right place, I would pick one simple thing to work on; Doing 6 dolphin kicks off EVERY WALL, Not breathing in and out of a turn, focusing on hitting a perfect turn on every wall. 

These are a few things I would set my mind to during these tough times, and when my workout was over I felt like I actually got something done. 

Simple tricks like this can turn a not so great day, into positive one where I felt like I still was able get better.

RENZO TJON-A-JOE

I don’t care about the cancellations. I’m going to keep working and stay ready for the next confirmed opportunity. Whenever that is. Vibes ✌🏽