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Pick a group you have belonged to and discuss how it has influenced/shaped you

Discussion
Dec 2, 2011
by: seamusa

Although I have belonged to many different groups over the course of my four years of high school, the most influential one was without a doubt the swim team. When I came to high school, I was not a very confident kid. I was small and very quiet. I had a few very close friends but I was not the kind of person to branch out and make new ones. I was also not very determined in athletics nor did I have the desire to be a successful athlete. That all changed because of the swim team. I got taller naturally but I got much stronger because of swimming. More important than these physical changes were the social changes. During my freshman and sophomore years I found a mentor in the team captain and if I have a question or need advice on anything he is always willing to help me out even though he is in college on the opposite side of the country. I found a solid group of friends with the same interests as me and even reconnected with some of my friends from my childhood. As I spent more and more time in the pool I became faster and realized that the kids in my grade and the year below me had come to look to me as a leader. I was named captain my junior year and while there was a little bit of a learning curve I became confident and with the help of mock trial was able to deliver inspirational speeches well. It became easy to make friends with this newfound confidence and now as a senior I can honestly say there is not a single person in my grade I do not consider a friend and cannot have a pleasant conversation with. I also became much more determined. As I watched my mentor succeed over and over again that I wanted to be like him. I worked harder than anyone on the team day in and day out constantly pushing myself and became a distance swimmer purely because of my determination to never back down from any challenge. I am known for always sprinting the last few lengths of my race no matter what the distance in order to either catch someone or better my time because of this determination. All in all the swim team was very important to me because it helped me grow not just physically but also made me grow into a better person, leader, and friend. It provided several mentors for me not the least of which is my coach who runs his program by the philosophy that while becoming better swimmers it is more important to become better people along the way.