Why Swimmers Rock in the Boardroom

I loved this post so much, I wanted to republish it here in its (almost) entirety.

**** Original Post ****

A blog post about five reasons employers should hire tennis players recently grabbed my attention and thoughts. While I agree (and like to hire athletes in general), I feel the qualities possessed by a competitive swimmer are even greater. So, given the choice, hire both. But, if you can only hire one – pick the swimmer!

1. Swimming requires zero natural ability or hand-eye coordination. A college-level swimmer became great at the sport by outworking the hundreds of other kids in the pool. A great tennis player had to work hard, but being naturally gifted is a more important component. In swimming more than any other sport, sheer will and determination outweigh skill. Hire a swimmer if you want someone who will give 100% every single day. In tennis, I will agree that you have to practice hitting a ball into a court thousands of times. But the determination of a swimmer who can log 10,000 painful yards in one day alone is unmatched. That’s who I want to hire.
<< It’s true, every swimmer I know has zero hand-eye coordination. Including yours truly :)

2. Swimmers understand what it takes to win. In tennis you can blame your racket, bad line calls, or an off day of playing. On the other hand, in swimming, every single lap of every single practice is measured. Swimmers are used to getting measured and judged based on their performance. You never hear a swimmer blame the judges or tools such as their goggles. As a swimmer, it is you against the clock. In business, I want employees who are unafraid of being measured, and who know that they control their own destiny. Swimmers know that they succeed or fail based on how hard they have worked – how much effort they put into every single practice.
<< This is my favorite part about swimming. It’s always you vs. the clock. No one else to compete against, no one (or thing) to blame. 

3. Swimmers have goals based on their own efforts. In tennis, most goals are based on beating someone else. You have no control over how the other player performs. Swimmers have goals that are detailed, under their own control and down to the hundredth of a second. I love employees that are goal-oriented – and you won’t find a more goal-oriented person than a swimmer.
<< It’s not about being better than yesterday, it’s about being better than your very best self (or time).

4. Swimmers are a little crazy. They are not the conformists who signed up for typical sports like tennis, baseball or soccer. They get up early in the morning when all their friends are still asleep, jump in cold water and swim exhausting laps. Swimmers aren’t in it for the glory or the fans (nobody likes to watch a swim meet!). So – why do they do it? I still don’t know. Sometimes work situations require someone who is also a little crazy. To explain, I think of the expression, “thinking outside the box.” If tennis players think “outside the box” they lose every match. On the contrary, they have learned to always hit the ball into the little box on the court. Hire a crazy swimmer, however, and you will have a passionate employee who will jump eagerly into everything with both feet.

5. Swimmers know how to party! In college did you ever go to a party thrown by the tennis team? I didn’t think so. Swimmers were always ready to cut loose, maybe because they spent so many hours in the pool. They bring the same energy, excitement and life to the workplace. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want someone throwing a keg party in my boardroom at noon. But, I do want people that are engaging, fun, and talented at entertaining customers.


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