What Messes with Your Head

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Docuseries reflection: The playbook (Netflix)

A coach's rules for life

My mother, very often fondly recalls how I learned to swim before I learned how to walk. From then it wasn't long until I started formal swimming lessons and began training for competitive swim meets. I swam competitively until Year 7, when I took first place in every single heat, with the exception of the 100-metre butterfly, where I scraped in at third place, taking home the bronze medal for that heat. Over-all, I had the best time, for both the girls’ and boys’ divisions. Despite all that so-called ‘success’ and ‘achievement’, my heart ached a bit at the sight of that solitary bronze medal. I was training towards an all-gold year. Looking back now, as a mature-aged student and solo parent of a toddler, I realise that the ‘loss’ was more valuable than the wins. I was prouder of that bronze medal than I was of all the gold medals that year. I became a better athlete because of the experience of failing and learning from disappointment. The loss, as painful as it was as a 12-year old, helped build character. I learned to accept defeat graciously and how to pick myself up and train better, not harder. It brought our team together too.

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