Here’s an interesting bit from the American Bar Association on the tendency of former athletes to end up running a law firm. As a lifelong swimmer, I had the great privilege to swim for Middlebury College in Vermont, where we won the school’s only conference championship my senior year. It was a thrill to get to compete at the NCAA championships on two relays, and to receive NCAA Honorable Mention All-America status for each of them, especially after taking a year off to pursue my intellectual interests abroad.
Swimmers, like lawyers, have to put in the work.
On my good days, I still try to make it to the pool for a lunchtime workout with friends. On the crazy days, I tend to dig deep and remember walking across the frozen tundra of a sleepy Vermont campus in the predawn, sub-zero hours, to jump in a cold pool while my friends slept off their hangovers. I’m talking so cold that your eyelashes freeze together, and you have to warm up an energy bar in your hands so you don’t break your teeth. Then you get to the pool and you jump in 65 degree water for 2 hours of pain. Then come back six hours later and do it again. And again. And again. And at the end of the season, you get to rest up, shave your head, and kick butt, knowing that you put in the work. It’s not unlike getting to the office at 4 AM to get a jump on the day’s work, or squeeze in one last bit of prep for a hearing or client negotiation. Fortunately, I have less of a need to shave my head with each passing year, but I still relish the beauty of hard work and the rewards that will hopefully come with the right amount of effort and timing. Swimming, like law, is not for everyone, but for me, there has always been a beauty in the journey.
I like to think that a lifetime of putting in the time, grinding out yardage while looking only at a black line at the bottom of a pool, is some of the best preparation for my legal career I could have ever had.