10 Things About Practice We Can All Learn From The Little Mermaid

Courtesy: Mireille Aleman

It has been so long since the kids have been in the water together, that we should really talk a bit about practice. Let’s get those swimmers excited about getting back to WORKING HARD. When it comes to inspiration and life-lessons, I think we can all agree on one thing — Ariel’s got us covered…..No? Well maybe not, but go with me on this anyways — If you have never seen The Little Mermaid, 1) Where have you been? And 2) Come on! Go watch it and tell us all what you think!

So in preparation for our return to the pool deck and as we all wait and hope for our State to reopen, let’s get ready to have the best ever first week back, by learning from our favorite Disney siren!

#1. Facing your fears is good for you. Let’s face it (see what I did there?), #ReEntry is probably going to be rough for our fishes — even though we all know each other, it has been a long, strange two months. Some swimmers could have been struggling with their season before the shut-down. Others may be fairly worried about how far this unanticipated, forced break has set them back. All of them had worked so hard and many feel like they now have a new mountain to climb…. Just to get back to where they were two months ago. That is scary! But if we learn anything from The Little Mermaid — well, OK, basically if we learn anything from ANY Disney movie ever made — it’s that when you face your fears, you achieve your dreams. Now don’t get me wrong — Ariel’s dreams were not necessarily the noblest of them all — but cut me some slack here — I am using a Disney movie to draw some parallels!

#2. What guided Prince Eric through it all was the memory of that one voice. OK, so this one is cheesy BUT, think about it! First, not all lessons we learn from the Little Mermaid are going to come from Ariel — We can’t leave poor Eric out of this discussion (just wait until we talk about that funny lobster — oh no wait, he’s a crab – – and the crazy French chef!). Second, how excited are those kids going to be? They get to hear someone else’s voice telling them to get stuff done! Our coaches have been the lifelines of this team throughout the whole ordeal. They have guided the kids, sent messages, posted questions and comments on social media, hosted meetings and sent workouts. As we are looking forward to the team returning to the pool deck, we should all remind our swimmers that those coaches will continue to guide them and support them through #ReEntry. Let’s encourage them to hear their voice, seek their advice and follow their lead.

#3. Mermaids don’t get ahead by keeping other mermaids down! So you know exactly where I am going with this one, don’t ya? We are a team! As we help our kids with the anticipation of returning to practice and having the best comeback EVER, let’s remind them that what makes us #SMACStrong is our team spirit, our camaraderie, and our desire to all work together towards one goal. The SMAC team culture our coaches have worked so hard to instill in our swimmers has to be the first thing to show up on deck, the very first day of practice! Remind your swimmers of how important their cheers, their encouragement, and their kind words are to others. Let’s get back to that #teamsmacattackisinthebuilding mentality!

#4. Appreciate your friends. You just can’t think about the Little Mermaid without picturing that sweet Flounder thing and that crazy Sebastian crab maniac ever-present around little confused Ariel now, can you? As your kids are getting ready to get back on deck, remind them to appreciate those swim friends they haven’t seen in a while. The Little Mermaid teaches us how important it is to have friends, especially fast, swimming friends. So as we contemplate getting back to some practice normalcy, encourage your swimmers to look for those quirky, endearing and lovable things that make their swim friends so very special.

#5. Think outside the box Yep, I learned that from The Little Mermaid — OK, so maybe I didn’t learn it there — but the lesson still applies. Remember when Ariel finds a fork…then combs her hair with it? I am not saying pack a fork in your kid’s swim bag for that after-practice hair (although it could be fun, I suppose) — what I am saying, however, is that the first few practices are going to be different, and definitely not the norm the kids were used to. For one thing, #ReEntry is going to take some time — and rest assured our coaches are already planning on doing this right — the kids simply cannot get back to the kind of strenuous work and practices they were having two months ago — It is going to take time, and it is going to take patience — So what am I saying? I am saying that we need to start now, and remind our swimmers that creativity, to approach and go through every practice, is going to be key — they need to adapt to this new world we have been introduced to and creativity, fun, and imaginative thinking will get it done!

#6. Embrace your voice So this is probably one of the big life lessons from the movie — in order to achieve what she thought were her dreams, Ariel gave up her voice. That was a big mistake — your kids have a voice — make sure they use it on deck — now for some, this can be easier than for others, so here are a few pointers:

  • Encourage your swimmers to make their needs known — in a respectful, but clear manner. #ReEntry is going to be hard for everyone, but we did not all go through the same experiences during the Stay-Home order — what my kid needs is going to be vastly different from what your child needs — What one coach may assume may not be what another would. It is going to be crucial for our kids to find their voices — and to be heard.
  • Make sure they use their voice to build up, not to tear down.
    Tell them to air out their feelings — I would imagine #ReEntry will focus on team building, personal edification, and character-building — encourage your child to take an active part in these chat sessions — they will find that their feelings are heard, shared and can help them as much as they help others.

#7. There’s no dream too big or too small. Yes, some of the dreams were cut short this season — our age-group sectional qualifiers were on deck when the wind was knocked out of their sails — some of our Senior swimmers were looking forward to Futures and even Nationals — our Travel Group was looking forward to one more meet at the Rec Center — and all of us were excited about getting together for the team banquet — Ariel was hoping to explore a world she thought she had no chance of knowing — get this — the mermaid got some legs! So if there is anything inspiring we can learn about the movie (well, besides don’t ever give up your voice), it should be to dream and dream big — as our kids return to practice (hopefully VERY soon), let’s encourage them to work hard and dream big — Yes, our last season was cut short, but we have a new season of life to all look forward to! Encourage your kids to dream big — encourage them to dream again!

#8. We all need a little Sebastian in us! Told you we would have to talk about that crazy crab — Sebastian is carefree, fun and just LOVES music! Now, if I am very honest, I have never met a swimmer (kid or coach) that didn’t have a personality — Yep, I said it, swimmers all have a little Sebastian in them! Could be that the light needs to a little reviving though — could be that the sparkle has been a bit dimmed — so as we prepare to send our swimmers back to practice, let’s remind them of that spark, that personality, that carefree, fun, loving spirit they had before all of this craziness began — send back your Sebastians to the pool deck (and don’t blame me when the coaches look at all of us cross-eyed!).

#9. A fast swimmer won’t end up in the bouillabaisse! Ok so I get that 1) I am writing this blog on an empty stomach and 2) we all may need a little context here — first off, what is a bouillabaisse — I am glad you asked. A bouillabaisse is a classic French dish from the seaport town of Marseille (rumor has it, one of our swim parents is actually from there, so next time you see her, ask her about it!). Anyways, in one of the scenes, Chef Louis is seen in the kitchen, making every attempt to snatch that pescy crustacian (Sebastian — the crab) and add him to his steamy dish (bouillabaisse could very well be my own interpretation of what he is cooking at that point). The point here, is that Sebastian is quick, and fit and trained, and smart — in fact, so much so that he simply avoids every single attempt from Chef Louis to turn him into the “soup-du-jour” — so yeah, good, quick, fit and trained swimmers win in the end — that’s the lesson and we all need to make sure our kids get it too!

#10. Did you ever stop to think mermaids were just swimmers with drag socks? Come on! Who’s with me on this one??!!! You know I am totally RIGHT!!!! This is the biggest lesson of them all (that’s right — forget everything else I just wrote, THIS is where it’s at!) — I am sure those kids have forgotten all about the dreadful drag socks BUT, if they want to swim like mermaids (and mermen — if that’s even a word), they need to start preparing to slip them socks back on! It’s time to get back to practice and build up that strength y’all! Slip them socks back on and see you all on deck in a few! Can’t wait to see all of them mermaid learning swimmers back at in and kicking butt poolside soon!
Now in closing please know that Ariel can also teach us all a little something about life. For example, and to name a few,

1) Flounder fish are mermaid’s best friends,
2) Nothing is more comfortable than your bed,
3) A perfect underwater hair day is unrealistic,
4) Always read before your sign, and
5) and my personal favorite, a good bouillabaisse needs a slow crab!

ABOUT Mireille Aleman

Mireille is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University, where she obtained a PhD in Chemistry and Biochemistry.  She was an associate professor and breast cancer researcher in south Florida. She also has experience working with college athletes, helping them to balance academics and athletics.   Her athlete, Liam, swims with Smoky Mountain Aquatic Club in Asheville, NC. These days, if you don’t find her poolside supporting Liam and SMAC, Mireille is settling into her new role as a student, as she pursues a Master in Public Health with the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She has spent countless hours on deck as a swim mom and volunteer, and is now enjoying sharing some of her thoughts and experiences through the Swim Mom Confidential blog on the SMAC website (https://www.smacswimshop.com/blog).

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