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Cutting Through The Noise & Taking The Next Step

Written By: Tom Higdon

One of the hardest parts for me about being a swimmer is the noise. There’s noise on the pool deck. There’s noise behind the blocks. There’s noise during a race. The loudest noise of all though, is the noise in your head that seems to get louder and louder as you approach a big race.

I have been a swimmer for over 15 years and in that time my motivations have changed a whole lot. For most of my career I put all of my focus on the endgame. Everything was about the qualifying times I wanted to hit or the titles I wanted to win. It wasn’t until late into my collegiate years, when I first started swimming for Simpson University in Redding California, that I found something that was truly worth chasing; Silence.

At the 2020 NAIA National Championship I was going into finals on the second day as the top seed in the 100 breaststroke. It was something that my coach Steve Lazaraton and I had been building towards all season. It felt like every early morning practice, every sore muscle, every set, would culminate in the next four laps of breaststroke and the noise was unbearable. I was in the ready room and the tension felt like a weighted blanket over me. My head wouldn’t stop thinking, my heart wouldn’t stop pounding, the spectators wouldn’t stop cheering and it was all so loud.

The walk to the blocks felt like an eternity and the noise only got louder with every step. Even when the whistle was blown and the crowd went quiet it felt like all the shouting was still going on inside of me. But when the buzzer sounded I noticed something about this sport that I had never noticed before. The moment I left the block and the rush of the water drowned out the crowd it felt as though all the noise in the world was washed away in an instant. For that brief half of a second before my first dolphin kick I was at peace. My body and mind were ready for those next four laps and I loved it. From that moment on, swimming stopped being about winning races or making cuts and started being about chasing that half second of silence, that half second of peace.

My name is Tom Higdon and I hope to be chasing that half second for as long as my body will let me. That being said, my time in collegiate swimming is coming to a close. My final season of eligibility starts in the fall of 2021. I, like many others in this sport have felt, can feel the end of this chapter of my life being written.

My hope is that, in my time at Streamline Teams, I can help coaches have a better understanding of what it's like for Seniors like me who are preparing for the transition into post-grad. Whether it's hanging up the goggles or joining a masters program, swimmers always have a next step and

it makes a world of difference when their coach can help them take it. Stay tuned for my posts where I will highlight swimmers who are moving into the next chapter of their swimming careers and how you as a coach can help them along the way.

Tom Higdon is entering his final season with Simpson University and pursuing a masters degree in Organizational Leadership. Tom transferred to Simpson after competing and training for two years at American River College and DART Sacramento. Tom is a 2 time NAIA All-American in the 100 and 200 breaststroke events and the program record holder for Simpson in both distances.


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