After watching Michael Phelps at the Olympics I seriously think that individual sports are so much more rewarding than team sports. Although you do rely on your team for events like the relay, most of it is due to individual effort.
When I was about 10 years old I swam in a state competition for my school. All of the kids on our swimming team were from the local club RKC. Our school didn't really have a swimming team but when they found out we could swim well for our age, they put us into the competition. Our mothers got a good trainer to train us almost everyday leading up to the competition.
Although I was a decent swimmer in every event, my favourite events, breaststroke and freestyle, were always given to someone stronger than me. I was left with the choice of backstroke, butterfly and individual medley. No one wanted to do these because they were difficult, so I was given the job. My trainer said that my "form" in these events was not bad and I could work on my speed. They needed someone to fill the spot in these events, so I had no choice. At least I got to compete in individual events rather than just the relay.
I won two bronze and one silver medal. The silver medal is something I am particularly proud of. It was for the 100m individual medley, the hardest one. I had to do the butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle and compete against some state swimmers in the other teams. No one expected me to win a medal let alone get silver. It was close. I was leading going into the last lap but the freestyle state champion from the other team overtook me at the finish. By the end of it I almost collapsed from exhaustion because I pushed myself a little too hard. I was just a skinny little kid back then.
After the competition our trainer migrated to Australia and that was the end of my competitive swimming days. I got into football and never went back to swimming seriously ever again.
Looking back I am amazed that I did all that swimming at the age of 10. It has been more than 20 years since then. If I could pick a sport I want my boy to get into, it would certainly be swimming. Whether he'll be the next Michael Phelps is another matter.