October 22, 2012
The Shane & Debbie Collins
- written by Shane Collins -
Shane and Debbie Collins have donated an Award to the Hurricanes Swim Team. Here is a description of the Award which will be handed out annually at our Awards Banquet.
“Life has meaning only in the struggle. Victory and defeat are in the hands of the Gods, so.....let us celebrate the struggle!” -- The Swahili Warriors of East Africa..written 2000 years ago.
In the early 1960’s a young girl, barely into her teens approached George Haines, the head coach at Santa Clara Swim Club in California.
At that time, Santa Clara was a swimming powerhouse and had athletes like Mark Spitz [7 gold medals and 7 world records in the1972 Munich Olympics] and this youngster wanted to be a part of the Club. She explained her wishes to Coach Haines and although he had never heard of her, told the young athlete to jump into lane 8, swim a few lengths and he would make a decision as to her suitability in joining his program.
Off she went with a big smile on her face and jumped in. After a couple of hundred meters, Coach Haines knew she could never become an elite swimmer. She was too small, she wasn’t very strong and she didn’t have a decent stroke. She popped out of the water and went up to the Coach with her wide eyes and beaming smile and he didn’t have the heart to turn her away. He instead told her to show up, train in lane 8 [traditionally the slow lane] and stay up with the other swimmers as best she could.
She never missed a workout all season, always had the big smile on her face and never complained. She also never made a meet final or indeed won a heat. This youngster did however inspire the more gifted Athletes with her enthusiasm and the Coach wanted to do something to recognize her, so he invented The Dolphin Award.
This trophy would be presented to the athlete who showed the best attitude and spirit and when she was awarded this, her first significant recognition, she was overjoyed and left the Club at the end of the end of the season incredibly happy.
Another swimming season rolled around and the young girl was the first to show up on deck and meet with George Haines. He was quite surprised to see her at all, but after gathering his thoughts, he just told her to get into lane 8 and do her best. Off she went, smiling all the while and jumped in. A strange thing unfolded during the season…..This young girl started to grow. She started to get stronger and not only did she make finals, but started winning at swim meets!
In 1964 at the Tokyo Olympics at the age of 14, Claudia Kolb won a silver medal in the 200 breaststroke! Four years later in the Mexico City Olympics she won two gold medals, in the 200 and 400 individual medley events. She went on to establish several World records and had a tremendous swimming career.
Years later, she was being interviewed on a US network about her many successes and was asked which of her many achievements was the most significant. Was it her first Olympic Medal...or was it the double gold she won in Mexico City?
She immediately responded that neither was at the top of her list. Her most cherished trophy is the Dolphin Award. It gave her the belief that she mattered and that she could indeed achieve something in her swimming career.
The story is a great example of what can be achieved and it is a lesson to be learned by all Parents and Coaches....including George Haines!
Footnote. Shane and Debbie Collins are accomplished Marathon Swimmers. Among other endeavors, Debbie still holds the women’s record for the crossing of The Strait of Georgia and Shane was the first Athlete from BC to successfully swim across The English Channel. In 2007 they became the first Canadians to swim from Spain to Africa, crossing The Strait of Gibraltar.