Saturday, October 8, 2011

Brave Enough to Look Within

by Ryan

Last weekend I went to California for a swim meet. I came back to Colorado with a new American Record in my pocket, yet a lot of frustration about sprinting (which seemed to weigh much heavier than everything else in my luggage.)

I have never been known as much of a sprinter, before or after my accident. I have always struggled with being able to perform in such short spurts of time and energy. In high school it never seemed to add up to much of a problem because I would just swim something else; however, in the world of para-swimming there really isn't anything else.

My American Record was set in the 200 backstroke-- four times the distance that I am asked to sprint. My sprint events were terrible, but on some level I set myself up for that.

I am no stranger to self-deprecation, as am I no fool to placing blame on a weak performance. I know that sprinting is about confidence and courage and believing in yourself FAR more than it is about technique and training time and dedication to the actual sport. With all of that said, I know that it is, without a doubt, my fault that I can't sprint.

I can sprint in practice in beautiful strokes of confidence and poise. I can sprint with a smile and encouraging times. I just can't do it in a meet. This, I know, goes far deeper than just stroking, swimming, and sprinting...

For the past few months, I have begun challenging my athlete brain with the comforts of a sports psychologist. We have discussed many things that directly relate, and oddly don't relate to my performance in the water. Right now we are focusing on my sprint.

It's so scary and disappointing to acknowledge that I am the thing responsible for holding me back. It isn't my lack of motivation. It isn't my lack of desire. It isn't my willingness to train.

It is my own negativity and lack of confidence that stem much further than simply sport.

However, I am up for this challenge. I recognize that I am willing and wanting to repair my self-doubt and deprecating thoughts. All that I know is that I care enough to take this on. This challenge is far more difficult than any physical training and preparations I have ever known. It is unsettling and it is raw.

BUT for the first time, I'm brave enough, at last, to look within...

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