August 13, 2018
Well, it’s the first day of a new season. We had a great turnout this morning. I have no doubt that this will be an amazing year. We have a lot planned for our swimmers at every level. Look for those rollouts in the weeks to come. This week, let’s let our swimmers adapt to their new schedules and responsibilities. With that in mind, this post addresses how to best balance family, school, athletic and other after school activities.
While this may seemed more geared to our older athletes, the skills and mindsets offered here are magnified later in life when internalized early. Parents of younger swimmers will be well served to try to reinforce these concepts within their children now. I say this as a man of a certain age; one who has experienced the balancing act from many points of view. Spoiler Alert...Discipline Creates Opportunity.
Throughout my entire time in the sport I heard many well meaning swimmers and parents state how they or their child does not have the time to meet the demands of preparing at a high level. There is just too much to do. Teachers these days give out more homework. There are so many clubs to join so a college application stands out. I / they need their sleep. I could go on, but I am sure you get the picture.
Yes. Times have changed, but one thing remains the same. People with great time management skills can accomplish much more in a day than most people can in a week. And what is the key to time management? Discipline. Discipline creates the framework in which things get done on or before time.
I met a new coach at a recent meet. Between her swimmers events, she was reading a book. I was intrigued, so I asked what she was reading. It was a book entitles, “Tribe of Mentors” by Timothy Feriss of the “Four Hour Work Week” fame. The book contain short life advice from some of the most successful people in the world. I immediately downloaded it for future consumption.
I tend to examine things that interest me. I found a Tribe of Mentors podcast and subscribed. I listened to it during much of my drive to and from North Carolina the other week. One of the guest speakers, Jocko Willinks, talked about Discipline equalling freedom. It was a great concept; especially when you put it context with his background in the military as an elite Navy Seal, and later, as the lead Navy Seal trainer for the west coast. Of course, my thoughts on the matter drifted to our swimmers.
I finished the podcast, turned off my iPhone and just reflected. Miles flew by. States blended together. Discipline equals freedom. But what is freedom for athletes? It hit me. Freedom is Opportunity. Therefor, Discipline Creates Opportunity.
Before I wrote this post today, I received a call from one fo the coaches from the University of South Carolina. One of our swimmers, Hannah Barton, sent him an email saying she would like to visit while she was on her way to swim at Futures in North Carolina. The coach informed me that he never turns down anyone who comes to visit, regardless of their personal best; which I thought was nice. Hannah’s times are respectable, but not what is usually the times that justify being recruited by Division I South East Conference swim teams.
Upon further review, he noticed her improvement curve. She had only been swimming seriously for a year and a half. He remarked to me, “that just doesn't happen”. When she arrived, he was now curious about this athlete. They hit it off. He also remarked that her passion and positiveness jumped out to him as soon as he met her.
He then went on to talk about her from watching her film. He couldn’t believe her underwater ability of her feel for the water in fly. I went on to talk about her disciplined approach to swimming. I told him she travels 45 minutes each way, even mornings, to practice and arrives smiling and ready to go. I told her she was a disciplined athlete with a positive mindset. She made it her mission to have the best underwaters,,,so now she does! He is going to offer her an official visit. By the way, she has interest from other Top 20 Division I schools as well for the same reasons.
I do not bring this up to simply praise Hannah. I wanted to use her as an example of what is possible when you have discipline, drive and a positive outlook. I could say the same about many of our swimmers; swimmers like Alexander Robbins. This young man worked his tail off this summer to qualify for the Junior Olympic Games in Des Moines. That effort changed the direction of his athletic career. What is the same, with both Hannah and Zander, is they both created new opportunities by being disciplined.
At this point it is important for me to point out that discipline should not be associated with simple self control or giving things up. Discipline is libertating. It is also easy when you are motivated to create an opportunity for yourself or your team. Motivation comes from the word, motive. When you understand why you are doing what you are doing it has meaning and purpose. Getting up, going to practice or holding your pace in hard sets become fun.
Swimming has offered me and my family so many opportunities. We have traveled the world and made lifelong memories and friends. Do I put in more hours than most? Yes. Do we offer more training options than most programs? Yes. We do this not to simply outwork everyone else, we do this give our swimmers the opportunity to become disciplined so that they can create new and exciting opportunities for themselves in the years to come.
Discipline Creates Opportunity.
Here's to creating yours, in and out of the pool - Rich
I forgot to mention that both Hannah and Alexander were at our first morning practice today. Hannah is a senior in high school. Alexander is eleven years old. We can choose to better ourselves at any stage in our life. It's never too late or too early.