The swimming pool felt like home to me!
I was a competitive swimmer most my life & I was happiest when I was in the water. My best friends were swimmers. We trained for hours together, rode to practice together, ate most of our meals together, went to swim meets on the weekends together; we did that & so much more together. We were a tribe & that’s where I was most comfortable.
But, at the same time, the world of swimming was lonely as I was literally the only black swimmer in Oklahoma. I belonged to a small team from a small town with a small budget. It was so tough to compete with other swimmers from big clubs with parents who had deep financial pockets, multiple coaches & funds to show off all their great gear like matching track suits with logos, parkas, swim caps, t-shirts … you name it, they had it! I had a tough time competing mentally, not necessarily physically.
I was the tallest girl for my age, so I basically won most races just as I dove off the blocks! I remember when I was like 11 or 12 years old I missed a particular race, so the officials just placed me in the next race with the boys of my same age. I bet them, too! So, physically I was blessed, but mentally I was dinged. As a child/pre-teenager, I was full of self-doubt, had no idea how I could shake this feeling & that self-doubt definitely affected my success in the pool. I didn’t have the tools to work through whatever was going on in my head.
Fast forward to college! I arrived on campus with swimming scholarship in hand, ready to reinvent myself…. actually not reinvent myself. Getting away from the trapped feeling of small town living where you are labeled from a young age, I was excited with thoughts that I could be the real me in a new environment where no one knew me or my past. My “labels” were left in Stillwater. It was time for a fresh start.
The Drury Men’s swimming program had the most wins under their belt than any other men’s team in history. They had just built a new pool facility including a rehab/injury space including massage therapist, trainer & nutritionist. This was the first year they incorporated a women’s team. We were the originals, the pioneers & I felt so proud to be a part of something so unique & special. We were here to make waves, make history, just like the Men’s team. I was finally part of a team I dreamt of all my childhood & teenage years as a swimmer. I finally had my fancy tracksuit with team logo, parka, t-shirts & swim caps galore!
You would think with all of these amazing, exciting changes with my life & finally being a part of a strong swimming program that was huge, powerful & fast, there would be more positive talk & I would find my inner confidence, but that wasn’t the case.
My coach said I was an Olympian from the neck down; it was deep-seeded thoughts in my head that held me back from success. I was plagued with self-doubt; I just didn’t believe in myself. I trained like I did, but I never worked on my mental game, my mental toughness or positive thinking.
Let’s fast forward again! Over twenty years later, I finally practice positive thinking, feel a sense of confidence & acceptance with who I am!!! It is a work in progress every day just like it was a work in progress every day to achieve greatness in the pool.
And, just like feeling comfortable & confident in your own skin, with who you are, you should feel comfortable in your own clothes.
So, here is how we go full circle with what I am sharing today. If you would have told me in college that my sweatpants which reeked of chlorine were going to be trendy & a cool fashion statement today, I would have fallen in the pool laughing so hard. Today, fashion has proved you can be comfortable & stylish. They can go hand & hand. I will not compromise comfort to achieve a certain look. If I’m not comfy, I ain’t wearin’ it!
In retrospect, I often ask myself, “ I wonder how much more I would have accomplished as a swimmer if I have the confidence & acceptance that I have today…. if I only had it then.”
I can’t go back in time, but today I’m telling a different story! I can say with 100% confidence that I feel comfortable in the skin & my clothes!
I still love swimming, but I love myself more!
Re-working 6 pieces to create this athleisure look:
Would you try the athleisure trend? Would you take this sporty look to the streets? How would you style athleisure?
Thanks for stopping by, loved to hear from you!