“ ‘It’s a marathon, not a sprint.’ Do not play outside yourself. Play your role, but also find joy in that. Don’t do it in suffering. Find contentment.”*
We who swim daily are sometimes asked why do we swim so much. My main answer has become “It’s part of me. It’s what I’ve become.”
What has evolved has been a sense of freedom in the water. I do hard intervals because they feel good. I go on long lake swims for the same reason. There is an element of freedom in being able to swim for a long and hard time because I want to, not because I have to.
In this I have found a role, as the above quotation suggests: nato, ergo sum. “I swim; therefore, I am.” Swimming is an expression of myself, of me.
I have a friend who has done the same thing. He likes being able to swim 100 miles in a month, 1000 miles in a year. I’m not saying he does this all the time, but he knows he can do it, and it is a great satisfaction to him.
There is also contentment in this ability of ours as Masters swimmers to do something that most people would find tedious or difficult. We put in hours of energy and focus in and out of the water, and for what purpose, people ask.
Because we can. It is within us to swim. So we swim.
We also realize after awhile that the race is not when we get on the blocks. The race is the daily workout in the pool, the weekly preparation for the season, the yearly focus on swimming most days.
The race is a marathon, and like most marathons finishing becomes the final goal. Times are simply an indication of effort, nothing else. The true success is to finish what you started.
That is when the contentment comes. After a while it is enough to say, “I have done this.” In Latin, feci.
In the meantime, we continue on, because the marathon we are performing really never ends until we do, and there is contentment in that, too.