By Michelle Manningham
Olympic athletes and those who have competed in Olympic trials have a lot to teach us about what it takes to train for life at the next level. I have heard it said that how we do one thing, is how we do everything. It is no secret to me now how high achievers in life are usually high achievers personally and behind closed doors when no one else is watching.
My cousin, Bethany Galat, just competed in the swimming world championship and last year competed in the Olympic trials. I had an opportunity to interview her in where she finds her source of strength, the process of discovering what her true talents are and how she stays motivated to take herself to the next level every year.
When did you first discover your love for swimming?
“My parents signed myself and my siblings up for a summer league; I was seven. At that time swimming was more social than competitive until I joined South Bend Swim Club when I was twelve. My coach, John VanDiressche, had the energy and focus that opened a lot of potential in me as a swimmer and as a person.
What was one of the biggest lessons you have learned through swimming?
One of the biggest lessons I have learned and something I continue to see, is how powerful it is to have someone believe in potential you don’t see in yourself. On aha moment that really brought me to the next level was 2013 Jr. Nationals. My coach told me without a doubt I would win one of my events, and I thought he was bluffing because I wasn’t ranked very high. But his energy and confidence stuck around me during the meet and he was right. His believe in me when I was being coached by him was an absolute turning point for me. This was such a lesson to me in how powerful it is for me to encourage and show my belief in those around me. Sometimes it takes someone seeing the potential in us, before we see if in ourselves.”
What is the day in the life of an athlete training at the next level?
“During the school year, we have morning practice Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. We wake up at 5:20am for our 6-8am practice, then we head off to strength and conditioning which usually takes about an hour. During the week a few of us who swim middle distance or distance events like to do an additional cardio work during the week. We typically go to class and then have another afternoon practice from 3-5pm evert weekday and then most of us head back to the dinner hall for dinner and studying. My day usually ends around 10:30pm, and I never stay up later than 11:30pm.”
What has been one of your most defining moments?
“Like any other sport, there is potential to learn so many valuable lessons. Last year my week at the Olympic trials stands out as the most defining experience, as I learned the influence of my gift as a swimming to myself, others, and how it can be used as a platform to boast and glorify the Lord’s love. I have found peace in simply humbling my talent by dedicating it to the Lord.”
What was your most special moment as an athlete?
“As big and momentous as the championship final was at the Worlds, the semifinal heat the previous day was really special. There was a lot of nervous energy in the ready room and I felt my nerves getting a little overwhelming. I put my headphones in and played “You Make Me Brave” by Bethel music on repeat and slowly started to refocus my perspective and the Lords love started to feel very prominent. I was so at peace because of the grace He had given me to be on a world stage. That was the first time I ever had to hold back tears before a race. In that moment walking out to my race I was so grateful for all He had revealed to me about himself, and how clearly He speaks to us personally. Seeing how much my doubts were affecting me prior to this summer, my doubts have only shown that the Lord’s grace was glorified through my success.”
In hearing Bethany’s story it made me ask myself if I am expecting next level results in my life with a half-way work ethic. Realizing that success leaves clues, you cannot argue with the fact that she is able to compete at a World Championship level with a 4-5 hour a day training schedule. Whether it is athletics we are training for, a business, or simply playing at the highest level in life and in our family, I think it is safe to say we will have to work for it. Sacrifice brings along with it a level of confidence. When you know you are working harder behind the scenes than your competition your belief in yourself will elevate you to the next level.