There is a Ben Hesen….There are a 1000 swimmers, who unless you follow the sport, you’ll never hear of. Ben Hesen may be one of them. He was the 2008 NCAA Champion in the 100 Backstroke and an NCAA All-American. He even finished fifth at Olympic Trials in 2008.

How Close is Close?

The one aspect about The Olympics that people don’t often grasp is “how” close is close. On Wed night, Ben Hesen swam the 100M backstroke at the Olympic Trials in 53.03, which would have won a silver medal at the Olympic Games in 2008. In fact, there are only 3 individuals outside of the US who have a faster time than Hesen does in 2012. However, he finished fourth at the trials in one of the fastest fields ever in the event, and will not be on the team.

Unlike most other sports, where there is usually “a tomorrow” in the sport, Olympic Trials is THE gateway.  Only the Top 2 in each event represent the USA at the games. The selection process may be debatable, but it is the American way. If you swim fast enough when it matters most, you are part of the team, end of story.

These individuals that you’ll never hear of have been champions since high-school, never miss a workout, and train like no other. A rest day to them can mean running a few miles or just lifting some weights. These are the one’s with the motivational quotes oozing out of them, like hard-work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard and so on. Their social lives are often difficult as well, because of the amount of time and effort that goes into it. So what happens when Ray Liotta from Goodfella’s comes out and says and now it’s all over and that’s the hardest part.”  

And Now What?

Many hold on and many struggle with letting go. It makes sense, it’s tough!!! Think about when you lost a game, match, or had a set-back, now magnify it by 100x. It’s the same reason why athletes cry when they actually make the team; they realize how extremely hard they have worked to make it! In order to “make it”, one has to be ALL IN.

People ask me, what would I say to an athlete? Honestly, “no idea.” All I know is that the relationship must be built up over time and a few key points should be evident before getting to that point.

First, there must be a passion of loving swimming. Not to just to love winning, but to love swimming, swimming, and more swimming. Next, they should actually contemplate that they won’t make it. After all, it is a possibility, so why not examine it? Is it still worth giving it your all, even on the bad days? They have to be willing to give everything, day in and day out, with no guarantee of success. Do we approach life, sport, and/or our own careers this way?

“If you want the ultimate, you have to be willing to pay the ultimate price.”-Point Break