Having a reluctant little swimmer is hard on any parent. Can reluctant swimmers grow to not only be safer in and around the water but also learn to love the sport? Madan Morris, son of Sonali Morris, co-owner of Goldfish Swim School – Cleveland East Side and Goldfish Swim School – Fairview Park, is proof that they can. Read on to hear Madan’s journey into the swimming world in his own words.

 The funny thing about swimming is that you can love it and hate it at the same time.

I hate swimming. I hate that I enjoy putting my body through two-plus hours of shoulder-grinding, heart-pounding workouts daily. I hate that I enjoy holding my breath while I whip my legs back and forth, like I’m poorly executing a dolphin charade. I hate the fact that I love swimming so much; what weirdo enjoys torturing his or her body to move through water mere tenths faster?

Well, I do, and so do hundreds of thousands of others across America who work their rear-ends off every day. My friends and I are constantly make sarcastic remarks about how great our shoulders, legs and other aching body parts feel. And we know that there are kids across the U.S. making the very same jokes. At the end of the day, no matter how much we complain, we love the sport. We live and die by the pace clock on the wall and love every second of it.

I mean the swimming part, not the staring at the pace clock part.

I wasn’t always this crazy about swimming. In fact, when I was younger, I completely despised it. I would do anything my little four-year-old body could muster up to avoid getting in the water. I personally remember none of this, but I get constant reminders of the glory days – the kicking, the screaming, the protests – from my mother. Evidently, not even the promise of toy trucks or ice cream could make me even consider getting near the water.

Then, a change in scenery. We moved. And, as luck would have it, the place I would now call home was home to the first Goldfish Swim School. Birmingham, Michigan was my new home, and Goldfish would become a large influence on my life. While my young, undeveloped brain understood nothing at the time, Goldfish was unlike any other swimming facility I had seen before. Bright colors filled my vision from the moment I walked in. Smiling instructors waited to welcome me into the pool. Of course, I didn’t take note of any of it; I was still a kid with a bitter hatred of the water.

Yet, here I was at a swim school – swimming. I was actually swimming. Sure, it’s different compared to what I do now, but I was swimming, and just a year earlier I wouldn’t even stick my toes in the water.

Then, another move happened. This time, it was back home to Cleveland. And, my parents, now intrigued by what Goldfish did for me, decided to open up a school just 15 minutes away from home. At this point, I had no fear of the water. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I loved it, but there was no fear when I hopped into a pool.

Another year passed, and I was 10 and miraculously, still swimming. The protesting and screaming were long gone, and I graduated from the Goldfish Swim Force. I then joined my first competitive swim club, the Solon Stars. At this point, I can say that the water and

I had reached an agreement, an unspoken respect for one another. As for my competitive swimming experience, that was a different story.

I will admit, although embarrassing, that I thought I was a pretty good swimmer, based on my prior experience. Surely the competitive scene wouldn’t be too much harder, right? Yeah, nope. I had to eat those words for a long time, or at least until I could hold my own in a practice. It was brutal, and these kids were the real deal. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into, or rather, what my mom had gotten me into. Yet, I stuck with it. I decided to weather the storm, carve out a name for myself. At the very least, it would make an inspiring story.

Fast forward to now. I am 14 years old. I can firmly say that I love swimming with all my heart, and it is a critical part of my life.

Swimming has allowed me to meet some of my favorite people, as well as get to know people from all over the country that I would otherwise have nothing in common with. I am in the best shape of my life (albeit I’m 14). I enjoy waking up at 4:50am to jump into a cold pool and train to drop mere tenths. I love the grind. I love the people. I love the sport. Swimming is what I am, and I love the fact that I can honestly say I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I haven’t forgotten my roots. I still remember my fears about the water, how Goldfish changed me, and what I pushed myself to be. I must give credit where credit is due, and thanks to Goldfish, I’m a diehard swimmer who my mom can’t get out of the pool. And, I guess that’s a better problem to have compared to the reluctant swimmer I was.

Think your swimmer is ready for the next level, like Madan? Stay tuned to learn the essentials all new swim parents need to know before signing their kids up for a competitive swim team next month!