December 14, 2018
Before I get into the meet recap, I wanted to thank everyone for all their support as we let our beloved dog, Maggie, pass yesterday afternoon. I was also grateful last night for the outpouring of love and support for Coach Don and his family. His celebration of life was beautiful and well deserved. I know that our entire extended family’s thoughts and prayers are with his.
Coach Don was a good man, a great coach and was on deck for all the right reasons. His beaming smile, infectious laugh and caring manner will be missed. All coaches should love their athletes as much as he did. Coach Don was proof that nice guys do not have to finish last. Thanks for everything you did for your athletes, your teams and the sport in general.
On to the meet...
Last Weekend, Blue Wave sent a contingent of fifty or so swimmers to the Rosen Aquatic Center in Orlando. There were nearly seven hundred (700) competitors from twenty four (24) swim teams at the meet. As a team, the women finished seventh and the men finished second; just ten (10) points behind the winners, T2 out of Naples. The team finished in fourth place for the combined women and men point total.
This was our mid season target meet and the athletes did not disappoint. The individual accomplishments are too many to single out. Our athletes earned many new AAU Junior Olympic, FLAGS and NCSA Age Group & Junior National cuts over the course of the three (3) day competition. We had many swimmers earn the right to compete in finals. For some, it was their first time making it back to finals. Watching the kids light it up at night was fun! Full results can be found by clicking the link below:
We put this meet on the schedule for many reasons. For me, the main reason is to give our swimmers a sense of team. Watching the boys push each other in an effort to take home the win Sunday night was exactly what I was hoping would happen. The energy fed everyone on the team, not just the men. To be frank, it was light years away from where the program was just a couple of years ago.
Swimming is seen by many to be an individual sport; and it is in many respects. That said, there is something about performing for your teammates that gives many competitors an edge. We try to place events on the schedule that are both individual and team focused. In addition, we are working on ways to reimagine swimming as a whole and have it become more of a family friendly, team oriented sport...more on that in another post.
For me, it’s also about balance. While it is great to have a team focus, it is also important to keep it in perspective. I feel that I have enjoyed team success in the past because we always kept the focus on the individual’s needs, even within the context team-centric events. Here’s what I mean.
In the mid 2000s, for example, NCSA Juniors were held the week before USA Swimming Nationals. The program I was running at the time had athletes who qualified for both events. I believe that the focus for each individual should be the highest level of competition for that season. In those years, we did not enter the Nationals qualifiers in all of their events at Juniors. We kept the athletes on their track to the higher level competition the following week, They may have swam an event in the morning, or participated on a few relays, but the goal was to get them ready for their season ending meet.
This approach may have costs us a few more Junior National titles as a program because these swimmers would have scored extremely well at Juniors. In the final analysis however, our program’s overall success came from that commitment to the individual. When USA Swimming brought back Junior Nationals under their banner, they placed it the week after Nationals. That allowed us to swim all of our athletes and take home the combined team win. We had the same approach in others clubs I worked with in succeeding years and they all blossomed; both the individual swimmers and the clubs as a whole.
My long winded point is we need to offer opportunities in which our athletes can be challenged individually and as team members. We will continue to do this as a program while we resist the temptation to become enamored with team points, trophies and accolades. Too much of a focus on the team is just as bad, in my opinion, as having no care in team results at all. History has shown that when you take care of the individuals, the rest will follow. Besides...it’s just the right thing to do.
I am happy with the progress we have made as a team to date. That said, we still have a long road ahead of us to become the program we can ultimately become. I appreciate your willingness to go with us on this journey, Know that each of you are important to our continued growth and success. It’s a great time to be a part of Blue Wave.
Next up? We have our Recreational Meet tomorrow at BSAC. I love these meets. For me, it’s fun to watch the next generation of swimmers develop a love of the sport while they challenge themselves to develop new skills. I love it because I know where their journey can take them years down the line. I look forward to seeing you there.
See you at the pool - Rich