One of my favorite memories from my relatively short life is lying on my back in a pool while it was raining. Watching the raindrops fall onto the pools surface from underwater is such a beautiful and magical thing yet it is so simple. Looking back, the paranoid person I am now is screaming “why on God’s green earth would a swim coach tell kids to stay in the water during a storm.” That person, of course, is different from the part of me that sees nothing wrong with swimming out far into the ocean and swimming in the ocean at night. That part of me also sees nothing wrong with swimming during a storm. But the whole of me wishes I could swim competitively again. I am not a person of regrets. I don’t do regret. I find it to be a waste time. What’s done is done; we can’t change the past so it’s best to just move forward. But as much I believe all that, I still regret quitting swimming because I know what could have been. I always say that (if you have to) regretting doing something is much easier then to regret not doing something.
For a long time I didn’t swim much. I went entire summers without swimming. It was different from when I swam competitively. When I still raced, one summer I couldn’t swim because I had a deep cut in my ankle and I couldn’t get it wet. Not swimming was horrible. I would try to get in the water somehow because I missed it so much. But in summers past I didn’t miss it as much. Maybe I missed it but was covering it up by pretending I didn’t care. Recently I started going swimming much more often, at least twice a week. Every time I’m in the water I remember why I feel so at home in it. There is just something so perfect about being in the water. But it also makes me think of all that could have been. Now, although I have a slight tendency to be vain sometimes, I’m really not tooting my own horn when I say I could have made it to the Olympics. I was good, really good, at swimming. That was the one thing I kicked butt in. That’s what made me special, the talent I had for swimming.
So of course I understand why you may be thinking “well if you loved it so much, why quit?” Trust me, I ask myself that all the time. The answer I give is that combined with moving, an illness in the family, and the onset of my poor body image, I wimped out of swimming. But being real, I know that’s a lame excuse. None of those were good enough reasons. I could have easily joined a new swim team in my new town. My mother even encouraged me to. I think not having a good enough reason as to why I quit is why I regret quitting swimming so much over things I don’t regret that other people may see as more regret-worthy. It’s painful to think of all the success I could have had, even if it was just a scholarship to pay my way through college by doing something I love, if I hadn’t just given up.
Long story short, we go through experiences like this for a reason, to learn. It’s cheesy and cliché but seriously, never give up on something. Unless it will kill you, there’s no excuse to give up on something that makes you happy. And for those of you, who have quit and regretted it, don’t let that stop you and get you down. It’s easier to just get back in the water and enjoy what you love then to mope and beat yourself up over a mistake. Yes, you may not reap the rewards such as scholarships, prizes, money. But in all honesty, as long as you’re happy and doing what you love, rewards don’t matter.