How do student-athletes deal with the infuriating side effects of being sick?
Bruises, sprained joints, and broken limbs are definitely not an uncommon occurrence when it comes to sports. They often have rather straightforward fixes too: apply a cast here, an ice pack there, and rest for a few days before coming back to practice. Ailments such as the common cold, however, aren’t as straightforward. While it isn’t as serious as a broken bone, the constant congestion, runny nose, and headaches make for an incredibly frustrating experience.
“I get sick about two or three times during swim season, because it depends on the weather,” says Moga Pendse (10).
The actual cause of sickness depends on more than just weather conditions though; factors such as stress can also influence the probability of falling sick.
“I usually don’t get very sick during the tennis season because of the constant exercise,” states a student who wishes to remain anonymous. “[However], this year, I felt very fatigued during Spirit Week, because there was so much going on on top of the tennis season, and my energy was just constantly drained.”
How does sickness affect practice? “Being sick makes me less focused and hardworking during practice,” mentions Angelle Mercado (10). “I can’t effectively put the critiques I receive from my coach into effect.”
“It feels terrible to practice because I am in a terrible mood the whole time and can barely move around,” agrees an anonymous source.
Unfortunately for swimmers, the side effects of being sick are especially severe. Pendse recounts how “it feels frustrating, because swimming for hours while being congested is extremely hard, because you’re constantly trying to gasp for air…swimming with a cough is pretty difficult because when you breathe through your mouth, water can go in and then you start coughing even more.”
The adverse effects of illness have rather negative mental impacts as well.
“If I feel fatigued, then it feels absolutely terrible to practice, because I am in a terrible mood the whole time and can barely move around,” says an anonymous source.
“Not being able to work at my full potential makes me feel angry and very frustrated, because I want to do my best all the time, but my body just won’t allow it,” adds Pendse. “Being sick at a meet is especially horrifying because you’re not in the right mindset while swimming.”
As with any terrible situation, there are ways to make it more bearable. For instance, Mercado states that she makes herself feel better by sleeping early and having foods like elderberries to boost her immune system.
An anonymous source advises against pushing oneself “to the absolute limit… Make sure you have enough time for friends, family, and schoolwork.”
Pendse states that one of the ways to ease the symptoms is “doing yoga, because it actually does help. Also, make sure you’re constantly drinking water throughout practice so you don’t get dehydrated.”
Interestingly enough, although the symptoms of sickness can make it difficult to concentrate on things, athletes tend not to skip practice unless absolutely necessary.
“I try not to skip practice unless I am really sick with a fever or throwing up,” says Mercado.
An anonymous source mentions that they have never skipped practice while they were sick, although “whenever any…teammates did, Mr. Hunt was very kind and understanding.”
Sickness can affect student-athletes in rather severe ways. It can lead to frustration during practice, a greatly lowered performance level during games, and immense frustration due to a combination of all of these factors. Despite this, athletes still choose to go through everything out of love for their sports.
Athletes on the school swim team practice and train in the swimming pool on campus. “Sometimes practice does aggravate the symptoms, especially when your chest is congested,” says Pendse. “You’re trying to gasp for air while trying not to get any water in your lungs.”