January 11, 2014
Over the holidays I was talking with coaches about swimming...... Swim coaches often talk about the good and the bad of our sport we share positive things with each other. I absolutely love our sport, I've always thought that even though swimming is thought of as an individual sport, its the team atmosphere that makes it great! This article hits the nail right on the head, as to what makes swimming great for swimmers, families and coaches. Read it, take it to heart, and the AmberJax will benefit in so many ways. Let's take pride in each others success! As swim families this is a great New Year's Resolution!
Thanks to Coach Stephanie for sharing this with me.
Words are powerful. The right words at the right time received by the right ears can move mountains or, in the case of swimmers, move water. Consider these words:
“Invest in your teammates’ success.”
Those are among the most provocative words I’ve heard from the coach of an “individual” sport. This summer, Coach Tyler Kerns used these words to create cohesion among 48 swimmers who, just one week earlier had been competing against one another at our LSC Championship. It was one of the first statements he made at the first official team meeting and honestly I don’t remember much that was said after that. He said it all the time and whether through sheer repetition or because it was advice I needed to hear on some deeper level, I was compelled by the words. Despite having completed 3 years as the parent of a competitive swimmer, it was a new idea to me — that investing in your teammates’ success in the pool (not just in your own or your child’s) was the driving force behind achievement for everyone. I’ll agree that a message like that is easy to sell at a large competitive meet like Zones, but it really laid the foundation for me in looking at how each of us should be investing in our teammates’ success in our local swim clubs.
Strong Swimmers + Strong Clubs = Strong Sport
How can we strive for an increased level of enthusiasm for “the team” in our everyday swim team activities? Investing in our team’s success means that teammates gather to cheer at the end of every lane where we have a swimmer and that everyone else (swimmers and families) cheers from the stands. It means parents jumping up and down and losing their voices to cheer for all of the relay teams. It means offering hugs and words of encouragement to teammates who experience disappointment. It means being on time to practices, warm-ups and competitions out of respect for your teammates. It means proudly and positively representing your team both in and out of the pool. These things we do for our teammates through exhilaration and exhaustion, frenzy and frustration until the last swimmer exits the pool after the last event is over. We should act like a team from beginning to end — behaving our way to success.
As parents we should be encouraging everyone, not just our own swimmer. We should encourage our older swimmers to get to know the younger, newer swimmers on the team to keep them motivated and involved. On a broader scale, we should also be mindful of how we view other swimmers in the swimming community. Do we see competitors on our team or on other teams as obstacles that prevent or detract from our swimmer’s success, or do we recognize that other’s achievements, if placed in proper perspective, can motivate our swimmer to realize their own success? Do we see ourselves as a member of a community, albeit a competitive one, or are we all on separate islands?
As 2014 gets started, I would ask you to evaluate how you and your swimmer can invest in or are already investing in your teammates’ success and then promote this investment throughout your clubs. This type of investment can yield riches beyond gold medals, it reaps benefits of character, determination, and the foundation for life-long friendships — not just for your kids but for you as well. If you believe your swim club promotes this ideal, we would love to hear about it in the comment section below.