Being the oldest brother has a lot of perks. But the downside is, you have little brothers. Watching my two younger brothers grow up has been tremendously rewarding. Watching them grow to be able to get things for me, pick up behind me, take the blame – very rewarding.
My youngest brother, Greg, has branched off from helping me out and has been swimming since grade school. While his hard work and dedication to his craft have made him a champion on multiple occasions, it takes more than lifting weights, swimming laps, and running. There’s a whole world of habits and practices he does to aid in his endeavors. And trust me- some of them can really start to irritate an older brother.
I’m a total night owl, so I like to watch TV, go outside with the dog, make music, etc, at night until 2 AM typically. The problem is, that I have to tiptoe around like there’s a newborn in the house just so he can have a good night of sleep to wake up at 5 AM. Having such opposite schedules can cause conflict. Waking Greg up can be a volatile situation and if I get woken up, I get….let’s just say you don’t want to wake me up.
There are a lot of other things most people wouldn’t even think of: He eats all my food because he burns a ridiculous amount of calories, and he pulls my laundry out midway through to dry his towels. And so help me, if I have to stay in the same square mile as him when he tapers…the kid is bouncing off the walls!
There is a lot to deal with as the sibling of a swimmer. For one thing, the entire family calendar revolves around swim meets – we never planned a vacation or family event until the next season’s meet schedule was released. I felt fortunate that my parents attended my graduation since my brother had a big meet that weekend in another city. Of course, my mom did spend half the weekend tracking his results on Meet Mobile but I have to believe her happy tears were due to me receiving my diploma and not to him earning best times.
Part of being a supportive older brother is that I deal with it. There’s no secret to coexisting. I just deal with it. I acknowledge my schedule is more flexible and I’ll always make the adjustment in any way to help him succeed….just not at 5 AM.
At this point, I’m sure you believe I resent my brother. Don’t get me wrong, I do, but not for any of these reasons I just listed. I love my brother very much and want nothing more than for him to succeed because I have worked very hard to make him who he is. I tattled on him, I refused to let him hang out with my friends and me, I complained when he got to do everything earlier than I did – all the things a big brother needs to do to keep his younger siblings humble.
Watching him win is really awesome, but what I like most is behind the scenes – watching him achieve his personal goals. Every time he reaches another goal, that’s another win for him. Sure there’s no medal or podium to stand on, but achieving goals is so much more rewarding because it cuts out the glamour factor. It is an achievement that benefits nobody but himself. It’s kind of cool to watch — the kid has his third goal set before he even finishes his first. His determination to keep his eye on the prize is what makes him constantly improve.
Now, I’m not saying there aren’t a lot of hard workers out there, but what makes a champion is the guy whose “one more time” turns into 10 more times, or 20, or 30, or however many times it takes to get it right. The sheer focus on his race of getting on that starting block helps him to excel in high pressure situations.
Being his brother, I see that the road to being great doesn’t stop and start when he’s in the water. It starts when he wakes up at 5 AM. Having that drive to be better translates to all other facets of his life. His one more try in the pool translates into his one more try in the classroom. His journey to becoming great at something is a way of life. I guess he’s taught me a thing or two as well.