"So you wanna be a high school swim coach?". This was the first question asked of me by my head coach when I sat down for an interview to be an assistant high school swim coach. I thought piece of cake. We had survived summer swim with 100 plus neighborhood swimmers and what felt like 1,000 new swimmers under the age of 6. How hard could 32 high school swimmers be? They already knew how to swim! BOY WAS I WRONG!
Swimming is a truly unique sport. It requires mental stamina. Focus. Drive. Dedication. Determination. Adaptation for early morning swims and late evening nights. Hunger pains. Growing pains. Lots of eating. Lots of sleeping. Disappointment when the clock beats you. And elation when you beat the clock. Swimmers know this. Amateur, seasonal, year round. They all can prepare for those obstacles.
What swimming is missing is a community. A unified and undivided community. One that seeks the same outcome and works together to support, promote and grow swimming for all ages. One that accepts differences (big and small) and finds creative ways to bond. A community of teammates who support each other without bias. A community of swim coaches who collaborate. A community of leaders who open facilities for swimmers not shut
them out. Research proves that the neurological and physical development that swimming provides sets children, teens and even adults up for success. Swimming provides resistance that forces the body to work through it; further developing and enhancing nerve fibers and muscle control, fine tuning coordination, and strengthening mental stamina.
Without a community individuals remain individuals. Individual swimmers watch the clock in "their" lane. Individual coaches invest in "their" swimmers. Individual leaders in the community may ignore the research, leaving swimmers landed.
As high school swimmers head into championship season, and USA swimmers prepare for nationals and summer swimmers start looking for longer days and warmer months, my hope is that this unique community rises to the occasion and comes together. I'm ready! Are you?