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If the only thing....

If the only thing you ever got out of swimming was the ability to swim well it would be a waste of time after learning to not drowned.

A week ago Wednesday, we left Oshkosh on a bus with 36 swimmers headed for Texas, the majority of the swimmers were OSHY swimmers, but included in the group were swimmers from 4 other teams. On the trip all swimmers compete wearing the same cap, our purple NKB cap. Our message is simple, be positive, be inclusive, just like at NKB camp.

Walking in the pool in Lewisville we were a presence, matching shirts, matching sweatshirts, matching caps, matching attitudes – support everyone, be positive, appreciate everything.

With 36 swimmers we had swimmers competing all the time in both pools. Normally teams are pretty supportive of their athletes at night, but during the morning preliminaries everyone is kind of on their own, focusing on their own races. Not our group. Each morning, every time one of our 36 swam there were swimmers standing at pool’s edge to cheer. And not once did the coaching staff had to tell people to do it.

The meet is hosted by a club located 200 miles from the pool. Needless to say, the challenges for them are great. Everyday our group stepped up to time when they weren’t competing. One night I was able to let the timing coordinator know that we could fill ALL the timer’s slots if necessary. It was really cool.

On the 3rd day of the meet I was asked to address the officials meeting, to explain our group and our message. When I finished everyone stood and clapped, I shook a lot of hands, and for the rest of the weekend officials would pull me aside to talk about how special our group was and how important our message was.

The last day of the meet, Paul, the meet director and a long-time friend, pulled me aside and asked if he could address our group. Paul told the group how special they were, how impressed he was by the way we conducted ourselves, and how important our message of positivity and inclusion was.

There are a lot of variables in competitive excellence, most are controllable, some are not. We swam well. In the days, weeks, months and years leading into the meet we did a lot of things well. We can be better, but we did well

There are less variables in behavioral excellence, all are controllable. Be positive, be supportive, be inclusive, appreciate everything, be gracious, be humble. As the swimmers exited the bus for each session of the meet they were told, “Find a way to contribute.” And they did.

The times and the places that our swimmers achieved tell only a small part of the story. The rest of the story is the important part.  Some of the best swimmers in the world were at that meet …but we were the best team.