My daughter’s decision to quit swim school is strange

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a male company worker in my 40s. My daughter, who is a third-grade elementary school student, suddenly said she wants to leave the swimming school where she has been training hard since she was 5. I’m confused.

Advanced swimmers attend the training school. Some of her classmates are aiming to be Olympians. Unlike these children, my daughter can’t improve her times and she wasn’t selected for a special training class. She seems to have become discouraged as a result.

She never skips training sessions. In addition, she reads swimming magazines so intently that I sometimes wonder if she is trying to stare a hole through them. She’s even talked about entering a university with a strong swimming team. I’m so sorry that she wants to quit. Even if she can’t become a top swimmer, I think it is meaningful for her to continue making an effort. I really want her to keep at it.

I feel the stamina and concentration she has acquired through swimming has had a positive influence on her extra-curricular education, such as abacus class and cram school. I’m concerned all of these may collapse if she stops swimming. I don’t want to imagine her not going to swimming school.

B, Tokyo

Dear Mr. B:

Your daughter has already faced a big obstacle even though she is only a third-grade elementary school student. I understand your concerns.

She probably wants to quit swimming school because she can’t improve her times no matter how hard she tries. Let me quote a Japanese proverb: “Ishi no ue ni mo sannen,” (Sitting for three years on a cold stone will make the stone warm), which means perseverance will win in the end. Your daughter has continued training for about four years without skipping any sessions. Her efforts are admirable. She has the ability to patiently persevere, so it may be good for her to direct her energy to some other sport.

I played soft tennis when I was a child, but I wasn’t successful. So I turned to athletics and performed surprisingly well.

Quite a few Olympians did different sports when they were children. Doing various sports helps to build a well-balanced body — we call it cross-training.

Your daughter has already acquired strong cardiopulmonary function through swimming. She also has guts. I suggest you allow her to quit swimming school on condition that she takes up another sport. To get the power to continue something, we need to be motivated by achieving results, although it should also be understood that results are obtained by taking small steps. Your support could be a springboard for her.

Akemi Masuda,

sports commentator

(from Dec. 24, 2016, issue)Speech

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