According to a 2014 survey by Red Cross, only 56% of Americans can swim well enough to save their lives. Armando Poeta sees such data as disappointing, not just because swimming is a survival skill, but also because it offers much more. As a versatile sport, it offers an immersive experience for the body and mind. Apart from numerous health benefits, swimming also provides confidence, peace, and freedom in the pool to many. It’s an excellent exercise, a leisure activity, a thrilling adventure, and also an experience woven with plenty of life lessons.
Swimming can teach you a lot more than just how to survive in water. Armando Poeta was part of his airforce swim team, an experience that taught him several lessons which translated into other key aspects of his life, including his military career. Here are some teachings he got from swim training which translated beyond the pool:
- Trust and Patience
Swimming is not an easy skill to acquire and it takes months, if not more to perfect it. Armando Poeta understands that going into a body of water, without even knowing how to float takes courage. When one starts learning they must place their trust in the coach to guide them through the activity. Even once a person knows the basics, they must trust the process and themselves to be able to stay afloat in water.
- Hard Work and Mental Strength
As mentioned, swimming can only be learned through continuous practice. It is a physically demanding activity, which is what makes it a comprehensive work out according to Armando Poeta. One must work hard to correct their technique, be able to endure the pressure of the water and overcome the challenges required to master the skill. Even outside the pool, swimmers need to maintain a proper diet and a healthy lifestyle to be at their best when they are in the pool.
- Control and Focus
Swimming is a game of control, says Armando Poeta. Knowing how to move your hands and legs against the flow of water is an art. To be successful, Armando Poeta shares, a swimmer needs to have complete control over their movements, breathing patterns, and rhythm. Subtle movements in the water affect the speed, direction, and efficiency of the swim. A swimmer needs to maintain a streamlined and aligned posture to move against the resistance of the water. All this requires highly enhanced body awareness and control.
- Discipline and Commitment
Armando Poeta remembers waking early, sometimes going into the water in extreme temperatures, training regularly, and practicing hard to perfect himself as a swimmer. Being able to challenge oneself and work hard when no one is watching requires discipline. Swimming also teaches discipline as a person has to overcome the fears of the current they are battling against and submit to it in order to be able to control it.
- Persistence and Resilience
The training, the focus, and the consistent work can take a toll on most people. And almost every swimmer faces a time when they think they will not be successful in being able to acquire the skill. It takes persistence and self-motivation to push through their mental and physical challenges. Especially when training professionally, Armando Poeta notes, one requires to keep pushing for improvement and perfecting their technique in order to know how to navigate the pool without fear, doubt, or hesitation.
Clearly, when done right swimming offers a lot more than leisure or exercise. The thrill of the water and the satisfaction when one can control it and themselves, is in itself a benefit, not to mention the numerous health benefits. Armando Poeta however explains that swimming also shapes character and personality, allowing swimmers to gain skills and traits which help them in their whole lives, whether that be focusing on academics, working under high pressure in a job, or bouncing back from failure.