The importance of teammates is often under appreciated, even by coaches. But it is our teammates who lift us up, they challenge and motivate us, and they make practice and meets way more fun. Swim friendships are unique to all other friendships. Why? Shared experience. Swimmers are doing something very few people will ever understand. They spend hours each week in the pool and in dryland practicing and pushing themselves all while doing so under water. They spend their weekends traveling to meets and competing together. They have a level of comradery and acceptance for everyone on their team. Even those that struggle with connections or are socially awkward.
A Norwegian study found that because strong social relations in sports are more demanding than weak social relations developed in non-sports situations such as school, the friendships are more consequential.
At the end of the day it isn't the training, or the fun meets, the rivalry, or the glorious amounts of food swimmers can put away that keeps us all coming back for more. It is the personal connections- the friendships that keep us swimming.