A Tribute to Don Kimble

by SwimSwam Contributors 4

August 06th, 2019 Lifestyle

Courtesy: Kalina Emaus

40 years ago Don Kimble began his coaching career with West Michigan Swim League. No one would have guessed the impact this runner would have on generations of swimmers to come. It’s impossible to ever thank a man who gave so much in to each athlete enough or do so ever so right, but I guess we will give it a shot.

For the relationships built we thank you. For your undying passion, we thank you. For the creative workouts, we thank you. For always knowing someone would be cheering us on in a race, we thank you. For all of your lessons you gave us in the pool that helped us in life, we thank you. For the fact we all have a coach we will get to tell others about, and be able to say “that one made a difference” we thank you. For teaching us worth ethic we thank you. For being so much more than just a coach, we thank you. For all of the wonderful things not mentioned but that lie deep inside all of our hearts, we thank you.

This Sunday we celebrated your last USA swim meet and remembered all the great memories, tough times and also life lessons learned from you. I count it one of the greatest privileges to say my coach is the legend Donald Kimble. I decided to write you a thank you back in June when you announced your retirement and wonderful experience ahead at Davenport University. But then I remembered how much you used music to create our workout environment. Every day practice began with oldies music and of course the song Thunderstruck. So I wanted to reach to you through music and through recreating an oldies song I remember hearing in countless practices. It with all the respect of Don McLean’s song American Pie, and those this song was written in memory of; Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper that I present to you, The Legendary Whistle.

A long, long time ago… I can still remember how the whistle used to make me smile.
And I knew if I had my chance that I could make my move, and, maybe, Don would be happy for a while.

But winter training made me shiver with every kick set Don delivered.
Bad news on the whiteboard; I couldn’t take one more stroke.
I can’t remember if I cried when I read about 8×200 kick with bags.
But something touched me deep inside the day the whistle retired.

So Bye-bye to a legendary cry.
Of swimming free and fly with a whistle that wouldn’t die.
With good old Don with a smile and a grin, singin’ this’ll be the day that you fly,
“this’ll be the day that you fly…”

Did you write your own story?
And do you have faith hard work?
Does your heart tells you so?
Now do you believe hard work or talent?
I’ll tell you now, talent can’t save your mortal soul, and can you remember to be the best for the team even if that means swimming reaaalll slow.

Well, I know that you’re in love with the pool, ‘cause I saw you dancin’ behind the block. Man you kicked off your crocks, and you looked kinda like a happy jingeweed.

I was a lonely teenage distance swimmer,
With a lime green suit, in need of lots of help with you always counting for me.
I knew I couldn’t be out of luck the day the whistle retired.

So that last swim I started singin’ bye-bye to a legendary cry.
Of swimming free and fly with a whistle that wouldn’t die.
With good old Don with a smile and a grin, singin’, “this’ll be the day that you fly, “this’ll be the day that you fly…”

And now I’ll be on my own, trying to not burnout on a rolling stone, because that’s not how you wished it would be.
And while life was changing all around, a quote you borrowed from Kurt Cobain, whispered in a voice from you to me.

Oh, and while times were looking down, how could someone take your crown?
The pool was adjourned;
No Donald would return.
And while the swimmers read a book for help, we all practiced in the pool, and we sang Thunderstruck and did burpees, the day the whistle retired.

We were singing,
Bye-bye to the legendary cry.
Of swimming free and fly with a whistle that wouldn’t die,
With good Don with a smile and a grin, singin’, “this’ll be the day that you fly, “this’ll be the day that you fly…”

Oh swim meets in a summer swelter, time drops were low all around.
But spirts were high and rising fast.
As the swimmers tried for a get out swim, Don was on the sidelines with a laugh.

Now that 50 in was a sweet release, the whistle sang its happy tune.
We all were up to cheer, oh, but we didn’t get to leave.
Cause the last 50 sure did hurt, the piano hit without a fail.

So we started singing bye-bye to a legendary cry.
Of swimming free and fly with a whistle that wouldn’t die.
With good old Don with a smile and a grin, singin’, “this’ll be the day that you fly,
“this’ll be the day that you fly…”

Oh, and there we were all in one pool, a generation of swimmers lost in space, with no time left to start again.
“So come on kid be quick, show them one last kick. Don’t let yourself fall on your face, cause hard work was your good friend.”

Oh, and I watched Don from my lane, my heart clenched in love and pain.
No angel born in hell could break the 2 fly into the mile spell.
And as finals went into the night it was late but we had to put up a fight, it was the day the whisle retired,

So bye-bye to a legendary cry.
Of swimming free and fly with a whistle that wouldn’t die.
With good Don old boys with a smile and a grin, singin’, “this’ll be the day that you fly, “this’ll be the day that you fly.”

I met a girl who swam too, and she told me some happy news.
That I could go to Davenport’s sacred pool, and could hear the whistle like years before.
The coach there confirmed the whistle would play,

And in the pools the swimmers dreamed.
The lovers cried all the happy screams.
All the words were spoken, of what could not be faded.
And the three things I admired most:
A relationship center heart, undying passion, and creative sets.
Davenport caught a field of gold.
The day the whistle retired.

And the swimmers were singing, it’s not quite goodbye to a legendary cry.
We will still be swimming free and fly with a whistle that won’t die.
And good old Don with a smile and a grin, will still be singing singin’, “this’ll be the day that you fly, “this’ll be the day that you fly…”
And we were singing, see yah soon legendary cry, we can’t wait to swim fly to free with a whistle that won’t, with Don singing “this will be that you fly.”

About Kalina Emaus

My name is Kalina and I am a former student-athlete from Northern State University where I studied Elementary Education and Geography. I swam for sixteen years and forever am thankful for the opportunities it gave me, people it brought into my life and the lessons it provided. I have a ridiculous amount of passions and absolutely love this life and people. I’m excited to be able to give back to the people who helped shaped me by working at Kieve Wavus Leadership School this upcoming year.

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Shawn Kornoelje

GREAT article to someone who is an awesome teacher, not just a coach. I have had the privilege to have been a swimmer way back when he started, then as a coach on deck w/ him. He is always ready to talk swimming, always ready to learn. Keep it up Don!!!

Mary

What a FANTASTIC poem! What a WONDERFUL tribute i’d sat TWO special people!!!!! Thanks so much for sharing!!!

victoria_postmus

absolutely amazing article for an incredible coach ♥

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