Being a professional swimmer comes with a great deal of reward. The lifestyle is healthy and athletic, the time in the water is enjoyable and competitive and the glory of a won competition is addictive. However, professional swimming does not warrant award and achievement all the time. It comes with its drawbacks as well. There are certain hardships that professional swimmers face that are particular to their lifestyles and the demands that fall upon them. There are very high pressures that fall upon them, they struggle with reoccurring health issues and many of them struggle with a substance abuse. Professional swimmers are remarkable people, but people who struggle with particular issues none-the-less.
The performance pressures that professional swimmers face can be tremendous. Like all athletes, their livelihood depends on their ongoing ability to out perform the competition. Year after year, they push themselves to achieve above and beyond what was previously their personal best. However, everyone comes upon the limits of their personal best at some point and are forced to think about what to do when others surpass their personal best. These thoughts prove to be very stressful for some competitive swimmers. For many of them, all they know is swimming, and the stress of not knowing what to do once they are no longer competitive at swimming can push some professional swimmers into a negative mental state.
The pressure that is placed on professional swimmers to out perform themselves and everyone else can lead to substance abuse problems among many professional swimmers. Many people are unaware that professional swimmers are a particular demographic that struggles with substance abuse problems, but studies do indicate that professional swimmers are particularly vulnerable to this hardship. This may be in the form of performance enhancing drugs that alter the outcome of their swim competitions, or it may be in the form of substances that are used as a coping mechanism for stress and anxiety. Regardless, addiction and substance abuse in professional swimmers is a very serious matter and requires professional intervention. If you or someone you know is a professional swimmer who struggles with substance abuse or addiction, seek professional treatment right away.