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Thanks to Regan Nolan for contributing this report about coping with coaching changes.
Teams go through a lot together; the countless hours spent in the pool, painful pre and post practice dryland with sweat in our eyes and of course the constant bonding of our love for napping and eating. All those moments and times bring us together as one big family. So when a bombshell hits that you are losing a coach it affects every person in that family- hard.
When anyone leaves it’s a tough concept to grasp, but when it is someone who made you into the athlete and person you are today it hits a little harder. You all sit around and hear the coach mouth the words, “I’m leaving” and immediately the tears start to flow and memories begin to flash. You realize the person who is constantly in your ear about not breathing into the flags won’t be there, the person who clocks your time as soon as your hand hits the wall to let you know you hit your goal time won’t be there. The person who gives you motivation to keep going even if all you want to do is throw your goggles across the deck and give up won’t be at the end of the lane. Days go by and it all hurts even more than you thought it possibly could, you hope everything is a bad dream but, unfortunately, you never wake up.
The weeks leading up to the goodbye are bittersweet and emotions are every which way. It’s heartbreaking but then numbness hits and your body does not want you to feel the loss of such an important person in your life, so we push aside the feelings. Nevertheless, the day comes when you can no longer ignore the dreaded “goodbye”, heartbreak strikes again; it’s harder than you could have ever imagined and you can’t help the tears coming from your eyes because nothing prepared you for this moment. We just want to freeze time to a place where the goodbyes never have to happen and we can all sit around a table and reminisce on our favorite memories. In the end an “everything’ll be alright” or “we can do this” just doesn’t seem to heal the broken heart we all have inside us when the final farewell takes place. Eventually time will help heal the sadness and only bring the team closer as a family.
Just remember this though, no matter how far away that coach is. they still have one goal and it’s to swim for the love of the sport . Show them that the time and effort they have put into us as not only as athletes, but as people will not go to waste. It’s time for that coach to move on to another chapter and allow others to take away from them what we’ve already had the privilege to learn and use. We have to remember that as much as we will miss them, they are going to miss us too. It’s time for us to let go and not be selfish and give him/her the opportunity to be bigger and better.
So as we reminisce with our watery eyes and heavy hearts let’s not forget one thing, a big “thank you” to that special coach who helped us become that athlete we always dreamed of.