I’ve been invited to give a motivational talk to a bunch of 10 -13 year olds this week before a big swimming gala they have. I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out what to talk about and how to fit it into a 30 minute time slot. I have been blessed with awesome opportunities in my life to date and have learnt many hard lessons throughout my career as a swimmer.
On my wall in my office are a few of my most meaningful medals framed. Underneath the frame is one of my favourite quotes ‘The best is yet to come’ I have seen that a few times this last week and have had patients commenting on my frame and all my ‘amazing’ medals. I find it difficult to articulate what that frame represents.
As I prepare to inspire young talent with parts of my story I figure now is a good time to articulate what that means to me as it fits into a significant moment in my life.
I always believed that I would not stop swimming until I had reached my full potential. When I felt a strong call from God to stop swimming competitively in 2009, I fought it for a few months before obediently hanging up my goggles. The toughest part of this process was the reality in my self-belief that I had not yet reached my full potential as a swimmer. I believed I could go faster, be better and one day represent my country.
In 2009 I swam my last race in the 100m Individual Medley final at the Singapore World Cup which was the best way to end. On a high. It was still tough to let go because I had just hit the tip of success and then gave it all up, but I knew it was time. I spent 2 years working in India and traveling the world before I found myself entering a fun ocean race in Hawaii. That was where my love for ocean swimming began and where a new dream was planted.
It is on the shores of Hawaii that I started to dream about swimming again, this time for a purpose bigger than me, a challenge I would have laughed at previously. Over the process of a few months leading into years, I started actively pursuing this dream with the help of an incredible friend. The more I swim in the ocean, the more confident I am that this is what I was born to do. All the training, racing, disappointments, regrets and frustrations I had as a competitive pool swimmer were preparing me for what I believe I was born to do.
I have always had a natural affinity for water I could swim before I could walk, my parents couldn’t keep me away from it. It is my go to place, I find it to be a source of refuge and it is where I regain my sanity. I once wrote a poem when I was 15 about my love for water. I don’t remember the words but my sister always reminds me of that poem when I doubt my goal or love of the water.
The frame in my office represents the apparent success I had as a pool swimmer, but to me it is a strong reminder that often we do things we love and pursue goals and dreams that just seem to disappoint, or fade, it is hard work and the reward is just a few medals to frame at the end. I did have many highs in my swimming career, but it is only when my focus shifted, I started to realise the true talent and passion I have for swimming. I no longer live with regret that I stopped before I reached my potential, because I believe that my best is yet to come. I am only now starting to realise my true potential as an athlete and the possibilities are endless.
Dreaming big and following a passion never comes without a cost
I am so grateful I swam competitively as long as I did, the discipline, perseverance, routine and goal setting I learnt from it are priceless. I don’t regret the hours of sacrifice I put in, or the disappointments I had to deal with through injury or poor performance along the way. Those have all shaped me into who I am today and I would never be able to do what I now do, without those lessons or sacrifice. Dreaming big and following a passion never comes without a cost, but once we figure out the why of what we do and believe in the hope that the best is yet to come, there is little that can stand in our way.