Mental Health, Swimming

Prioritizing Our Mental Health Is an Act of Courage!

Where do I start? I LOVE the Olympics. I have since I was a little girl. I watched Mark Spitz win 7 Gold Medals in 1972 at the Olympics and set 7 World Records in the process. Friends and family used to ask me if my goal in swimming was the Olympics. It never was. BUT had it been- do you have any idea how competitive that is? to make it to the Olympics? Out of all of the swimmers in the entire United States, two swimmers make it to the Olympics in each event. TWO. That’s it! So what happens if you train your entire life and then the day of trials you are on your period and have extreme cramps? What if you have a cold? What if you didn’t sleep well the night before? What if you miss racing in the final because you finished 9th by 1/100th of a second?

At this Olympics currently happening, 18 year old Ahmed Hafnaoui from Tunisia was ranked 16th in the 400 Free with a 3:46.16. The top 8 swim in the Finals. In the prelim swim he swam a 3:45.68 and nabbed the coveted 8th spot to swim in the Finals. He was given the outside Lane – Lane 8. Your fastest swimmers are in Lanes 4 and 5. I highly recommend you watch this swim. Google it. Watch it on You Tube. The announcers don’t even have him on their radar. He ends up winning with a 3:43.36. Lane 8 won the race. Lane 2 got 2nd and Lane 7 got 3rd. The two fastest seeded swimmers did not place in the top 3. You truly do not ever know who is going to peak and when. It was thrilling!

As much as I love watching the Olympics, I am only watching the highlights this year (as they are rolled out.) I simply cannot stand listening to the stupid questions the reporters ask these elite athletes. I can’t. Can we just applaud the fact that they MADE IT to the Olympics? Can we?

And then what about when the athlete that the press is promoting left and right, Simone Biles, says “Hey – time out!” I say “Right on, SImone. RIght on!” She is very clearly making her mental health a priority.

After she and her coaches made the decision for her to sit out the remainder of Tuesday’s competition, SImone stated, “Today has been really stressful. I was shaking. I couldn’t nap. I have never felt like this going into a competition and I tried to go out and have fun. But once I came out, I was like, ‘No. My mental health is not there.”

“I was like, ‘I am not in the right headspace. I am not going to lose a medal for this country and these girls because they’ve worked way too hard to have me go out there and lose a medal.”

She was being selfLESS, not selfish. She thought about the team. And she did prioritize what SHE was ABLE/UNABLE to do — just like any other “physical” injury.

Mental health is not something we choose to go south. It happens TO us. It doesn’t mean we don’t have exercises and ways to work on releasing and rewiring and creating space. We must continue to share that MH challenges can act up at ANY time … and that prioritizing our MH is an act of courage, not a choice to quit. We CAN do this. Simone is doing this!

I truly believe that we never really know when a past trauma might surface and knock us on our butt. If that is happening to you, please ask for help. If someone simply tells you to “renew your mind” please contact me – message me – and I will see that you can get some help. I am one of many advocates for Same Here – The Global Mental Health Alliance. Check this site out and you will find my story and many, many more.

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