Sacrifices: What future professional swimmers and parents should know?
In case you decide that your child, but also yourself, become a part of the professional sports from the very early age, you should be aware of all the benefits, but also sacrifices you would all need to make. This refers to the whole family. Your child won’t have a “regular” childhood like his/her friends, because in order to be able to achieve high swimming standards, he/she would need to have a very serious approach to it.
Before making this decision, you need to ask your child and yourselves if you are both ready to “scarify” certain moments during his/her childhood, that most top athletes and their families need to give up on:
1. Summer holidays: While most of his/her friends will be playing together or travel with their families, top athletes need to continue their training routine during the summer break. Preparations for the competitions and competitions themselves are often organised over summer holidays, therefore you won’t be able to take a break in case you want to become a professional athlete. Are you ready for these dynamics?
2. Birthdays, family celebrations: Very often you won’t be able to celebrate your birthday with your best friends or siblings. Instead you will be somewhere “alone” in the pool, or a hotel room preparing for your next battle. It will also happen that your best friend’s birthday party is when you have your training session in the other end of town, country, planet. Top swimmers need to stay committed, motivated and persistent from the very early days. Are you ready to make this sacrifice?
3. Holidays: As the holiday season approaches, everybody becomes euphoric about it. They start planning how and where they will go for the New Year’s Eve, who’s grandparents they are going to visit for Easter, will your mum make your favourite cake for Christmas. It will happen that you could be somewhere far away on the plane just in time for family holidays. Are you ready to give up on this?
4. Your favourite band concert: Just in a week there will be a concert of your favourite band in your town, and just when you have to attend European or World Cup. Of course, you will need to miss this concert and the after party with your friends. Are you ready to make this sacrifice?
5. Staying longer in bed in the morning: There will be many days when it’s really cold
outside or it’s raining, it’s weekend, and all you want is to stay in your warm bed, but you have a training to attend. It’s your decision to make. But if you decide to be a professional swimmer, then you need to give 100% of yourselves. Are you ready to do this?
6. Diet: You managed to organise yourself in order to attend your best friend’s wedding. Do not even think about having any alcohol, and just how much you love that Pavlova cake! No, you can’t have any because you are in your taper and each extra gram or God forbid a kilogram can cost you a victory. Are you ready for this sacrifice?
7. Fun and extreme sports: Just how much you enjoy skiing, you used to spend weeks and weeks with your family playing in the snow. But no, you can take that risk. You are in the mountains for your competition preparations, and after your training you can just relax and slowly sip pressed orange juice, watching other people enjoying skiing. That’s harsh! Are you ready to make this sacrifice?
Professional sport should be your child’s choice! What is expected from you as a parent is to be their support, help them become more confident, make them feel that they will never be alone, and prevent any negative external influence shake their faith in themselves. On the other hand, do not ever jump into the pool instead of your child, not even for a gold medal!
If you have an underage child, pay close attention to how he/she feels, and support him as long as he/she enjoys it. If by any chance he/she starts lacking fun in sports, it’s very unlikely that he/she would continue enjoying it. Even when he/she grows up and his/her career starts rapidly progressing, if the initial love and passion for swimming disappears, there will be no fun or professional sport results!
Help your children, but also yourselves, in the way to stay true to themselves, even when they are professional athletes or swimmers, and that they never try to dedicate their or your life to become someone else.