A few weeks ago, I had read a
piece published by American Swimming Coaches Association which has
been written by John Leonard, the Executive
Last week, we
had a Mom come to us and "inform us" that her 13-year-old daughter
would be gone for two weeks vacation in late June, maybe another
week after that.
was not much of an age group swimmer, but she has some endurance
capacity and comes regularly to workout at 5:30 am and again at
5:30 pm daily. She works hard, demonstrates little talent, but lots
Her mother is
not athletic and clearly does not value athletics. We expressed our
dismay that she’d be missing for 2-3 weeks in the middle of
the most important training of the summer. Her mother’s
she’ll never be an Olympic swimmer, so what does it matter
This is a
dagger in the heart to any swimming coach, and it is to me.
If we only
cared about and worked hard with, those 52 people who will
eventually, once every four years, go off to the Olympic Games, it
would be a small, empty and meaningless sport.
was "That’s really not it."
It is the fact
that young people need to learn to dedicate themselves to something
that is difficult, something that requires perseverance, guts and
the daily determination to get your butt out of bed and go out and
push your body till it can’t go anymore.
Why do they
need to learn this?
lives are too easy, too soft, too catered-for. Too many people
carry them, make excuses for them, never allowing them to try to be
"heroic." Is it "heroic" to get your butt out of bed and go swim at
5 am? It is if you haven’t done it before. Is it heroic to
"make" 10x200 on 3:00? It is if you haven’t ever done it
before. Is it heroic to finish your swim and turn around and cheer
for the teammate who is even further behind than you are, and is
struggling to make the set? Need I say it? It is if you’ve
never done it before.
And that is
what "It" is about. About doing what you haven’t done before.
And learning that sometimes you succeed. Sometimes you fail. If you
fail, you go again until you learn to succeed.