What does inspiration meant to you? How do you keep yourself motivated?
“If you want to be the best, you have to do things that other people aren’t willing to do”, Michael Phelps, most decorated Olympian of all time.
When we think about inspiration, we think of how ordinary people have had an impact on people’s lives by doing extraordinary things. Having the selfless ability to be tenacious and creative can push you to be a better you while inspiring others to achieve their own goals.
But most of the time, what we really need is inspiration in its simplest form. A little something extra to push ourselves a little further, in our careers, in our beliefs, and in our daily routines too.
Doing the same things every day, especially when you’re a professional athlete, can lead to a lack of motivation. We tell ourselves we’re too busy or tired but are those reasons or excuses?
Self-motivation ultimately must come from within. But even for the most motivated of us, there are times when the pools of desire and incentives can run dry.
So, if you’re in need of some inspiration to motivate your swimming, we’ve chosen three gripping and meaningful stories that we hope will get you back on track and reignite that love for swimming.
Joe Wise: Live to the fullest
At the early age of 9 years old, Joe was diagnosed with a severe muscular disease affecting his legs, hips and lungs. Despite being advised by Doctors that he would not live to see his 15th birthday, Joe is not only alive but has also achieved his dream of competing in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
His remarkable journey began when he was 12 and he walked out on the swim deck for the first time. In 2008, Joe dedicated his life to swimming and subsequently was chosen to represent the US in the Paralympic Games in Beijing. After the Games, Joe’s life has been a roller coaster, constantly fighting with his life-threatening disease, but remaining sure that he had to live every day as a gift.
Swimming gave Joe the incredible opportunity to travel the world, inspire others and most importantly, do what he loves the most. Despite relying on a volume ventilator and constant medication, Joe’s swimming has helped him to look at the brighter side of things.
Carol Carter: Help others
“It was a long time ago but it’s not something you forget”. These are the words of Carol Carter, whilst talking about giving birth to her son Mark, who was born 13 weeks premature.
It’s now been 42 years and Mark is a healthy father and the inspiration for his mother to take on Swim Serpentine.
In 2016, Carol decided to celebrate her son’s 40th birthday by raising money for Tommy’s, a charity devoted to saving the lives of babies.
When Mark was born, few thought he would make it but after three months, the ‘miracle baby’ was allowed home. The undying devotion and dedication of the doctors and nurses that saved Mark’s life gave Carol the motivation to take on the challenge at the age of 57 and swim for Tommy’s.
Carol was a good swimmer when she was younger but since getting married, her swimming has taken a back seat. Then, four years ago she decided to join a gym and started to train in open water to prepare for London’s famous swim.
Following successfully completing Swim Serpentine in September, Carol is now inspired to continue her open water adventures, opting for natural lake swims over traditional swimming pools.
Lynne Cox: Overcome your fears
It is said that your dreams lie just outside your comfort zone. Some fears are innate and occasionally, some fear can be beneficial. However, others are just mental blocks that attempt to stop us achieving our goals. That little voice that says our dreams are too big or too scary to reach.
Lynne’s incredible adventure started with a dare amongst friends “can you swim from the California coast to Catalina Island?” In 1971 at just 14 years old, she became the first person to swim the 21 miles of the Catalina Island Channel. With the support of her family and friends, that first long-distance swim, spurred her onto a highly decorated career in the world of long distance swimming.
Since then, Lynne has twice held the record for the fastest swim of the English Channel and became the first woman to swim between the United States and the Soviet Union. A dark, cold swim lasting hours is a serious test of the mind and body but as Lynne explains, “life is a one-time thing. You have to do what you need to do while you are here.”
Lynne has never pushed herself for the credit or the rewards, but for herself. To prove to herself that her fears are but mere obstacles in the way of extraordinary accomplishments. That she is truly capable of anything.
Finding inspiration and extra motivation can be key in driving us further and closer to achieving our goals. We all have different reasons to swim. Whether to overcome adversity, push our bodies or just for the sheer love for the water. In moments of doubt, in moments of exhaustion, remember why you started. What got you into swimming in the first place and reflect on how far you have come.
For more inspiration on how you could start your swim journey, discover our blog post on the importance of challenging yourself here.