March Forth (not a typo)

Hi All,

The origin of this post stems from an idea my wife had many moons ago. If you do not yet know my wife, she is a very clever and creative person. She can take any piece of what I think is junk and turn it into a work of art. But her creativity is not limited to the craft table. She also comes up with unique family traditions. The one I am sharing today is March Forth Day...and no, that is not a typo. Here’s the deal.

Every Marth 4th everyone in the family reflects on their life. Is there something that they want to turn around? Is there an endeavour that wanted to start but haven’t yet? Is there something on their bucket list that could be addressed? Areas of interest can be personal, business or community related. The point is to March Forth into something new and exciting.

In the past we have collectively marched forth into new careers, personal improvement, artistic expression and charitable causes. If you know me at all, you have probably guessed, that much of my march forth commitments involves the swim team...and this year is no different.

We are just coming off two successful Florida Swimming championship meets. Even though we are heading into the final stretch of the short course season, my mind is racing with thoughts on how we can improve the team for the next season and beyond.  I have chosen March Forth to share some of those changes with you.

Blue Wave: Generation NEXT

It’s a working title, so be kind, lol. The point is we will have a major focus on our learn to swim, developmental and novice programming. Over the past two and a half years, we have demonstrated that we can help age group and senior level athletes reach the highest levels in the sport. I know it seems like a no brainer for a swim team to be able to do that, but you would be surprised how many can not. The hard truth is that in order to be a real long term high performance organization, you need a steady stream of young, well coached and highly motivated swimmers and families coming up through the ranks. It is the only way to sustain success long term.

Swim teams can be as unique as snowflakes. Some are personality driven while others are rigid in structure and implementation. The most successful combine both elements, They have great people running structured curriculum in a fun, caring manner. More importantly, they understand the need to develop the best younger swimmers so their senior ranks are continually filled with happy, successful and motivated swimmers.

This approach also means that the program has parents who see the big picture, understand that the staff has their child’s best interest at heart and are willing to volunteer to help when the need arises. We have all been to meets where the announcer is begging parents to volunteer to time. That is usually a sign that the program has not had a significant buy in from the parent group as a whole. A team that is truly a swamily never has those issues. Everyone is willing to do his or her share for the betterment of the swimmers and the program as a whole...and when that is the culture, real success can occur.

Unfortunately, many programs suffer what I call the anaconda syndrome.  Picture a snake eating a mouse. You can see that mouse running through the body of the snake over time until it is eventually excreted. I know, a tad gross, but stick with me here.

Many swim teams operate the same way. They get a couple of good age groupers and keep their focus on them. As they age up and grow, they receive most of the program’s energy and focus. It’s simply human nature. People love to be around success. If a coach is getting positive personal and professional attention for developing these national level athletes, he or she is going to work hard to ensure that they stay on top of their game. Unfortunately, that usually means that the swimmers in the other groups get less attention. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way.

The successes I have had running other programs only came when we had systems in place that helped us develop some of the best younger swimmers in the country. Now that we have stabilized the program to a certain extent, it is time to shift some resources and attention to our Generation NEXT. Today, I am going to March Forth to develop and institute the changes need so Blue Wave become synonymous with developing the best ten and unders in the world.

Senior swimmers and parents, don’t worry. Having the best ten and unders and the best seniors is not mutually exclusive. We can, and will, do both. Toward that end, we are bringing in people at both ends of the spectrum with proven track records of success. They have been hand picked not just for their pedigree, but for their attitude and people skills as well. All of the new people and program changes will be in effect for the start of the summer season.

As a man of certain age with many decades of experience on deck, I can honestly say that I have never been more excited for the future of a program. The pool renovations are on track, the facility upgrades are happening in front of our eyes and we are adding some incredible people to our staff. If you would have told me two and a half years ago we would be in this position even I, the eternal optimist, might of had some doubts. Now? There is no turning back. We are all marching forth into a new era for Blue Wave. I am honored to be a part of it and to be a part of your lives.

So, you may be asking yourself, what does all of this mean? Well, I will be much more personally involved with the development of our younger and newer swimmers. I look forward to helping new families understand the lifelong benefits of competitive aquatics. Swimming has done so much for everyone in my family. I would like to be more hand's on with our newer families to share our experiences so they get a more complete picture of what the sport can offer their children and their families as a whole. Armed with that vision of what is possible, we can better help vessel them from developmental swimmer to wherever their talents, dreams and drive can take them.

This will also mean more opportunities for our younger and newer families. More clinics. More local developmentally appropriate meets. More fun! I envision a program where the seniors interact more with their younger teammates. I see a program where everyone understand the swamily concept and works together to meet our shared goals.

March Forth. A different kind of holiday. I am glad to have taken some time to share this family tradition with you and how it relates to our program this year. So take some time and think about this. What will you March Forth into today?

See you at the pool - Rich