(Found this document, I wrote this about 2 years ago.)
Without swimming, I feel lazy at all times. I once swam twice a day, for 2-3 hours each time. I would also lift weights, run, and do massive amounts of dryland. I would get exhausted beyond human realms. I would be too tired to eat, too tired to sleep, if you can even imagine that. I would get so anxious and excited for swim meets that my stomach would tie in a knot, and completely quit the digestive process. If I ate too close to the meet I could feel the food just sitting there, like a weight in my stomach. And if I swam hard enough, then it would bulge, only to make me feel nauseous.
The pain I felt at the end if a 3 day or longer meet is indescribable, but so satisfying. Imagine the most excruciating growing pains (that is, if you had them) and put them in your hips, shoulders, elbows, knees and ankles. Put a Charlie horse in your abdominals, calves and traps, then, on top of that extreme exhaustion, and that’s the end of the meet. Not to mention the mental depletion of all thoughts, emotions and happiness. No matter how well I preformed, I went straight into what I have named, Post Meet Depression. Once again, with the depression I could not eat or sleep, but back to training anyways.
The constant stress swimming caused in my life never phased me. It was the other stressors that pissed me off, family, boyfriend, school, the simpler, less invasive ones. Swimming was what I lived to do, the others just got in the way, so if they caused any kind of stress I hated them. If I was stressed about swimming, then that was fine, in fact preferable. The constant challenge I got to face myself with everyday made it worth doing.
Swimming made me believe I was better than anyone I came in contact with. I knew I was in better shape, I knew I was stronger mentally, as well as physically. But now, without it, that confidence is gone. I am no longer in incredible shape. I can now sleep full nights. I can savor my food; it’s no longer a duty that must be performed to sustain life and good levels of energy. I can’t do 10 pull-ups or 50 push-ups. My hips have become equal in size to my shoulders. I have become better at tennis. I am making money, and have time to spend with my boyfriend, as well as to catch up on things I’ve put off for years. My hair is growing in places on my head that used to be worn away from cap usage, and my skin is virtually flawless. But the satisfaction I get from all of these things does not even match a week of swimming. What is the most frustrating is that it would be impossible to justify swimming anymore. I have no world-class talent. I must move on to the next phase of my life, and work toward the lucrative career I have in mind. But I must admit it’s much harder to find motivation for something, when you’ve been so passionate about something else.
The strange thing is, I don’t feel any depression, or regret. It’s a bit of a hopeless situation I am in, but my nature is to be curious and excited about the future. I look forward to challenging myself in Med-school. I hope time is all I need, so I can forget all of these horrible, wonderful feelings swimming gave me. Soon, all I did in high school and college will be a distant memory. When I talk of how I used to swim, I will be one of those people I always got annoyed with. You used to swim? Good for you, you obviously couldn’t take it, I’m swimming now. I get to say I went to the Olympic Trials, and competed in the NCAA’s and won conference, as well as an event at conference. I get to say I held multiple records at Indiana University. These things will just have to tide me over. Soon the emotion of uselessness that plagues me now will subside, and I will become the overly confident, know-it all shrink, everyone expects me to be, but for now, I am normal. Weird, huh?