When you spend more than 1500 hours a year in the water, training as a professional swimmer, there are only two reactions humanly possible – you'll either absolutely love the water or never want to see it again when you're done! Water's definitely my first love, which is why even though I've now switched to a new sport, Golf, I still absolutely love being in and around water. It's one of the reasons I like Atlantis, the Palm, in Dubai, with its huge aquariums, private beaches, pools and marine habitats for dolphins and sea lions, so much. That and the fact that I'm Parsi, which I think makes me a foodie by default. This place has no less than 23 different restaurants, bars, lounges and cafes promising cuisines to suit every mood!
There's something about the monsoons that have always had the poets very inspired. And while the city's an unbelievable mess if you're trying to dodge potholed roads, pavements crowded with hawkers and pedestrians or just the traffic that's moving at a snail's pace, there are some places that immediately take you right back to that inspiring, sweet spot like the poets, even in the urban jungle.
The good thing about being a professional swimmer is the high calorie burn out because of the intense workout, which for me equals enjoying decadent food while touring or on holidays, without too much guilt. This comes particularly in handy when you're dining at a restaurant like Levantine, at Atlantis the Palm, Dubai.
I started swimming at 7, and loved competing, so becoming a professional swimmer was meant to be. I was fortunate that the passion I felt, translated to success and I became one of India's best in the sport. I've recently taken up a new sport - Golf, and now dream of tasting the same success in this as well.
When I was 9 years old, racing In Mumbai, my coach told me that I would never get over the nervousness I felt on the starting blocks, no matter how many times I raced. I didn’t believe him at the time, but looking back over twenty years of competitive swimming, I think, I have to agree with him. I was as nervous for my first race at 7 as I was for my last one at 27!
"The most beautiful thing in the world, is of course, the world itself."
"I never got this far in my dreams", famously said pro-golfer, Bubba Watson on being asked how it felt to win the Master's Championship. Like Bubba, it is these dreams that wake me up every morning to go and train, keep me motivated on tough days to grind it out and keep me believing that someday this effort will help me wake up to living my dream and more!
This is the second in series of articles on lessons for success learnt from a lifetime in sport by Olympic Swimmer Rehan Poncha.