Poise and Grit

Photo Credit: failing angel via flickr


I caught the bug. I had kept it at bay for a while. In fact, I even thought that I might be in the clear and not catch it this time around. But last weekend I caught it.

I have Olympic fever.

I will admit that, despite my extensive swimming background, my interest leading up to the Olympics this year had been a bit waning. Unlike previous years, I didn’t know who was swimming what events. I didn’t know who had trained hard with which coaches. I didn’t know who was a favorite and who had just snuck in. It seemed that I was –gasp! – a fair-weather fan.

But as soon as the first televised race aired last Saturday morning, I was hooked. I was right there competing with the athletes. Certainly, I never competed at the caliber of these elite athletes, but, nonetheless, I could feel my hands pressing through the water. I could feel my legs aching when they pushed off the wall at each turn. I could see the other competitors out of the corner of my eye as they turned their heads for a breath. My body could almost feel the lactic acid building in my muscles from the extreme physical exertion.

Over the past several days, as I have watched these athletes compete from the comfort of my air-conditioned living room, I think back on the long, tedious hours spent swimming back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. I remember standing on the edge of the pool at 5:30 in the morning, staring into the blue abyss and dreading jumping into the cold water. I remember the sacrifices and trade-offs. I remember the highs. And I remember the lows.

Photo Credit: Stefuhnee Kayy via Flickr

I remember what it felt like to be more than anyone ever thought I could be. And I remember what it felt like when my best just wasn’t good enough. I remember the elated high that came when I realized that my hard work actually paid off. And I remember the pain I felt when it sunk in that I would not get a second chance to prove my capabilities.

As I watch these young athletes compete to be considered the best in the world, I vicariously relive my competitive swimming life. Admittedly, I feel a great deal of relief that the grueling days of 5-6 hours training per day and weekend long swim meets are over.

But I also look back with longing and a bit of wonder. I am awestruck when I remember the mental fortitude that I possessed as a teen. I marvel at the confidence and self-fulfillment that I once carried in me. I am amazed by the quiet determination and assuredness that my younger self enjoyed.

I watch these young athletes step on the starting blocks exuding a perfect combination of poise and grit, and I wonder. How can I get that back?

Do you live vicariously through anyone? How do you call up your confidence when it’s lacking?

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  • What do you mean? I don,t think any of that has ever left. Those characteristics just aren,t measurered by the click of a clock. I wish I had those characteristics you have.

  • I agree with Beth. I watched the Men’s 200 Fly with Dylan. Listening to him call the race made me realize it will always b part of him as well as it is still part of you. Your poise and grit is transferred to other ventures. You are still have the same dedication, determination and desire swimming instilled. You are one very classy lady in my book.

  • I’ve caught the olympic fever too. And my kids totally have – which I love. I think it’s so great to see kids watching other kids (basically) achieve such amazing feats. Where does it go when we grow up? I think it does get channeled into other things, but I also think it gets tempered with a little thing called wisdom. 🙂 At least that’s what I hope.

  • It’s great that you have such a deeper appreciation for these athletes. I mean, I am in awe of them, but I do not know first hand how grueling the training is. I can only imaging. But you do. It must be all that much more bitter sweet for you!

    I have to say, every time the Olympics comes around, I find myself not interested. Then as soon as the first event airs, I’m glued to the TV. I, too, have Olympic fever!

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