Swimming is nearly synonymous with Australia. It’s also an identity for some of our most famous faces – an all-consuming career that dominates the adolescences of our athletes and the rest of their lives.
After the lanes and coaches disappear and the podium is pulled out from underneath them, there’s not much left – and there’s certainly no support team.With Grant Hackett’splane incident this week, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that elite athletes are somewhat ill-equipped for retirement.
Professor Robert Wood, at The University of Melbourne, believes the key concern around retirement is”that most athletes live in a bubble through early developmental stages and further”.Swimmers and other elite athletes don’t have the opportunities to experiment with experiences and failures when they live in the spotlight from a young age.He explains that there is an element of breaking loose in retirement. This freedom and lack of experience, coupled with a public persona, means any failure feelsbigger and far more publicised than ordinary people.
Dr William Cole,of Calgary University, links the chase for satisfaction with a drop in the regular serotonin levels achieved from performance peaks.Swimmers are used to daily doses of serotonin. They struggle to achieve regular and less intense doses through less intense training regimes.Let’s be frank, as mere mortals, daily life is rarely endorphin-inducing.This new challenge of everyday life is not only less rewarding, but it is also a challenge for whichsome athletes have had little training.
Perhaps Swimming Australia needs to educate our athletes for a life post-pool even while they’re still swimming laps. Inside the aquatic centre you face a set of obstacles and train to overcome them, but outside the chlorinated bubble, life throws you unexpected hiccups.
– Darby-Perrin Larner is a freelance writer.This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.