3. You learn how to cope with failure and setbacks.
It’s not always going to be fair. And things won’t always go our way.
There will be times where no matter how hard we work the results don’t match our effort in practice. Or there will moments where you get flustered as you get up on the blocks and totally choke.
These moments sting, they hurt, and they take us down a peg.
But they also teach you how to be mentally tough. To overcome. And to be humble.
4. Being a team makes everyone better (including you).
Ever wonder why so many swimmers seem to have superhuman speed when it comes to relay legs?
I’ve seen it so many times, from my own swimming, dropping nearly a second on my best 50m freestyle best time, to Jason Lezak and his otherworldly 46.0 at the Beijing Olympics—there is something that happens when you race for something besides just yourself.
I get the temptation to want to do it on your own. To be able to say that you did it with no help. But when you can corral the effort and the will of the group for a common goal incredible things start to happen.
I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: One swimmer chasing greatness is powerful, but a group chasing greatness is unstoppable.