2020 is the year for our swimming community to get stronger together! We teamed up with Funkita to showcase some amazing swimmers who are getting stronger in and out of the water.

Noora Valkonen (@nooravalkonen), is a journalist and MySwimPro community member based in Helsinki, Finland. In this final blog in her 4-part series, Noora shares how swimming has helped her improve her mindset, resilience, patience and self confidence. Read Noora’s first, second and third blogs here. 

Noora Valkonen

Swimming has made me who I am. As a MySwimPro Ambassador, I get to share my story, help others understand the amazing benefits of swimming, and encourage people to follow their swim dreams. I want to share 7 important life lessons swimming has taught me.

1. I can accomplish whatever I set my mind to. 

First I wanted to learn all the strokes, then my goal was to win a medal. After that I got to write a book about swimming, which was one of my biggest dreams. Since I managed to achieve all these goals, I believe I can do the same in other areas of life, too.

2. Have patience. 

Everybody knows how challenging swimming feels in the beginning. It can feel impossible to find a streamlined body position or to even breath easily. But if you stick to it, you will improve. You just need time and patience.

Noora Valkonen

3. Devote time to what makes you happier, no matter what other people might think about it. 

After I decided to start swimming every day, my mindset became so much more positive. It’s a real mood booster to allocate time and energy to something you absolutely love to do.

4. Be comfortable in discomfort. 

Before jumping in the water, you feel cold. During a hard set, your lungs may feel like they are about to explode! In the middle of a 10k swim you struggle hard in your head about continuing yet another 500 meters. All this is natural. You just have to accept the discomfort, observe it and let it just be there. This applies to other difficult situations in life, too.

5. Mindset is everything. 

You get injured, you get sick, you lose a race or get stuck in a plateau and struggle to keep going. Setbacks happen, and give us an opportunity to improve. The key is how you react to them. Are you going to feel sorry for yourself forever or focus on what you actually can do?

Noora Valkonen

6. Be Grateful.

Every day I’m grateful for the fact that I am healthy and that I have the opportunity to swim. It is amazing that I’ve been given this gift!

7. My body is good the way it is. 

There are no mirrors in the pool and the water always welcomes me as I am.

Swimming’s Impact on My Eating Disorder Recovery

Swimming has transformed both my body and mind; it gave me the motivation to recover from my eating disorder and gain my health back. I’m much more mentally resilient and I’ve learned to appreciate life.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder or you feel bad about your body and food, I strongly recommend you seek help. It is not something to be embarrassed about. We are allowed to feel bad and talk about our negative emotions.

Noora Valkonen Underwater

In my recovery, swimming was a major support. Moving in the water helped me connect with my body and mind and it created a safe place where I could just be myself without any pressure. It relieved my anxiety and helped me to accept my body. Slowly it made me stronger.

Inspired by Noora’s story? Read her first, second and third blogs here! 

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