A few things happened this week that reminded me how important it is to actually get to know your training partners (swimming or otherwise).
Here are four reasons that you should ask whoever shares your lane with you to coffee.
1. Swimming relieves stress.
This seems obvious, but that means a lot of us hop in the pool stressed. While the workout itself relieves some stress and usually helps me breathe deeply, sometimes swimming with someone, having them encourage me or just ask how I'm doing, relieves stress, too.
A few weeks ago, I wasn't going to go to practice because I was exhausted, I had tons of work to do, and I had a stress headache. I convinced myself to get out of bed and make it to the pool. My lane partner and I killed the main set, and by the end of practice, I was energized, my headache was gone, and I was ready to get my work done. I don't think I would have felt so great if I'd been swimming alone. All I could say was "Thank you for swimming with me."
2. There is not enough time between splits to actually talk.
Depending on how serious your Masters team is, there really isn't enough time to actually talk. When I first moved to Charlotte, I went out to breakfast with SwimMAC after a Saturday workout. By the end of practice, I made my first Charlotte-area friend, gained a great swimming partner.
Had my team not asked me to join them for breakfast, I'm not sure how long it would have been before I made a friend. It really helped quell my summer loneliness, and there wasn't quite time between sets for me to tell my team why I moved to Charlotte and to feel welcomed.
3. During every workout, every swimmer hits a mental wall and overcomes it. This means that our lane mates know we as vulnerable in ways we don't let other people see us.
I read an article on USMS.org earlier this year (which, of course, I can't find) about how during every workout, every swimmer has to overcome some mental hurdle, whether it's continuing to sprint during a sprint set or not stopping to "go to the bathroom" in the middle of a 1,000 pull.
Overcoming these mental hurdles in close proximity to other people creates a bond. Enduring training together means that our lane mates see us at our weakest and our best and seeing us in these two states is something we, outside of the pool, probably only let our closest friends and family see (if them).
4. As athletes, the people we train with are the people we see the most.
No really. Do the math.
I spent the last two years swimming and training with a few of my good friends. I was making about 4 practices per week, living alone, and teaching a lot of classes. During those two years, I spent most of my time alone with my dogs, about 36 hours per week with Dan (we were living in different cities and only saw each other on weekend), 9 in-class hours per week with my students, and 6 hours per week in the pool with my training partners: Jon (my coach), Kate, and Scott.
We often don't give our work out friends enough credit. We think, "I don't really know her; I just work out with her." That's just not true. They are important to us, and we are important to them. Maybe it's not a regular friendship, but it's a strong one.