7 Life Lessons I Got From Competitive Swimming

It’s been years having a thought to start writing a blog but never found any confidence to start. No confidence, no idea about what to write, no writing experience since I’m not a writer. Yet, here, someone finally made my thought comes true. Yes, someone. This very first post comes up as a result of an encouragement from a woman who interviewed me while I was applying for a job, during the interview she asked me “Why don’t you start writing a blog?”, then I thought that maybe this is my time. Haha.

Well, this first post I wrote is about “7 Life Lessons” I personally got when I was still doing swim. I finished my competitive swimming career 9 years ago (I will write my own story why I stopped swimming, I promise you). At that time, I’d already realized that I had learned many precious lessons from swimming and in fact, the lessons are still relevant in every area that I do and I summarize it into 7 points. So, here we go!

1. Time Management

I was a full-time student who had several private courses, such as music and math course, and sometimes I became a member of school organization. I admit that it consumed a lot of both my energy and time and it was not easy to have a school-swim-life balance. Having morning and evening practices in between forced me to manage my time well since it is the only way to survive this kind of life. I had to use my time wisely, I sacrificed my social life back then and used to use my time only for practicing and studying. Yeah, it is all about trade off.



The fact is “If practice starts at 4pm and you come at 4pm, you are LATE then you have to be ready for those ‘sermons’ from your coach”. This is real, guys, your coach will get mad at you every time you come ‘on time’. This attitude helps me lots to get through life, even though it is so hard to keep having this attitude. Haha.

3. Win & Lose definitely matter but what matters most is to keep practicing harder and never give up


Like it or not, you will never always win, even Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, lost many times. Sometimes I felt like I should have won the race but I didn’t or when I thought I went fast but I gained more seconds compared to my best time. Nonetheless, those experiences teach me to accept everything gracefully no matter what the result is. Then, eventually, those kinds of setbacks come back to myself and ask– Will you keep practicing harder and waiting patiently for what future has in store for you or Will you just give up? It’s all your choice.

4. Dedication


Evening practice from Monday to Saturday, morning practice 3 times in a week, physical practice on Sunday, hard sets at practice until you threw up, countless weekend meets until you lost your voice, etc. I had never been able to going through competitive swim life without dedication and I admit that it is all worth it.

5. Every little thing/detail is so important

Every single millisecond counts. Never forget that.

6. Mental Practice is the key

Every time I joined swim meets or other sport competitions, my mental was being tested. Believe me, for me, it is not easy, I can’t count how many times I cried before the long-distance races (LDR) and how many times I didn’t do those races simply due to fear of losing, fear of not being able to beat my own best time, and the worst was fear of not being able to finish the race. HA! Poor me, What a shame (You can ask my former coaches, my swim mates, and my family if you don’t believe this).
Anyway, as time goes by, I felt like a loser not having bravery for those LDR then I ended up with new gut to start practicing more in long-distance program FEW YEARS LATER.
Then, what happened? After months following my gut, I took those LDR at swim meets. When the set started, I was too nervous and talked to myself. “Let’s do this. You can finish well and touch the wall at the end.” then “Well, you already made it to the halfway”, and finally, “I’m gonna finish this well and smash that wall!”. Frankly, there wasn’t a better feeling other than beating my own fear no matter what the result is. This experience taught me that we have to encourage ourselves to go beyond our own fears.
Most of the times we are afraid to do something that scares us because we think that we are not capable enough. Yet, Bob Marley said that you never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice. You will always be capable if you believe in yourself.

7. Learn to appreciate what you have, before time makes you appreciate what you had

Back then, I used to take my swimming achievements, my swimming potential, and competitive swimming life for granted. Many complaints came out from my mouth, grumpy while practicing due to hard sets, and so on, and so on, and so on. Until one day, I had to give up my competitive swimming for the sake of my health. At that time, I realised that the practices, the hard sets, the weekend meets, the cold pool were all I ever wanted in my life. Those were the things I love the most. All I held tight was a regret, but it couldn’t take my past back. The reality is life must go on, just keep moving forward, believe that the future holds something bigger than my past, and be grateful.

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Thank you for visiting my blog. I'm Ivana, I was born and raised in a small city in West Java, Indonesia, called Cirebon. The one thing that I had loved the most since I was 7 years old was swimming which became the reason why I pursued my career in sport. Then, in 2007, something I had never imagined came my way.

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