Courtesy: Donna Hale
Given that high school and college champs season is in full swing with club to soon follow, I was thinking about what makes swimming the greatest sport on earth. The answer is easy: teammates – those lifelong and water-logged pals who joined you for so many seasons of your journey. Caps you wear may change. Thousands of miles may separate you. And your involvement in the sport may vary. But I promise you this. When you hang up your goggles the last time, make one last glimpse at the clock, and hit the warm down lanes one final time there is one thing that you will remember. It’s the teammates you have loved along the way.
Being a team makes swimming awesome. Most of the time you are lucky. You are surrounded by great friends with all-star sportsmanship who realize swimming is a team sport. However, there are a fair numbers of teams at every level of the sport who are surrounded by drama, huge egos, and even in the worst cases bullying. As you begin the exciting champs season take a few quiet moments and reflect on who you are as a Teammate. Nothing matters more. Nothing.
Good teammates support each other through injury, illness, shining moments and really dark days. Do you?
Good teammates swim for the name or logo on the suit and not the personalized cap. They compete in the events that give the group the best chance for success – putting team before personal stardom. Do you?
Awesome teammates build people up and do not tear them down. Drama is minimized. Gossip is not tolerated. They cheer loud and hard even if it’s their team record about to fall. They have spirit. Do you?
The best of the best light up the pool with their passion for the sport. Sure, they want to win and swim best times. But they know that how you conduct yourself in practice, in locker rooms, on the sidelines, and when no one is watching — these are the moments that define you. They inspire even their fiercest competitors to push harder and be better. Do you?
Lastly, the MVPs of teammate excellence give back. They serve their communities. They stand against trash talk and mean behaviors every day, supporting the role each person plays. They shine everywhere – the bright lights that inspire the future swimmers watching in the bleachers. Do you?
As you enter these coming weeks, I challenge you to stand in front of the mirror. Think honestly about the reflection you see. There’s a famous poem my daughter’s coach gave her years ago called “The Swimmer in the Glass”. He gave her so much, but this might have been her favorite thing ever. She’s saved it for many years.
If you are not satisfied with what you see, start today and make the changes. One day this will be over. It is how you will be remembered. You cannot hide from the Swimmer in the Glass.
Donna Hale has been a swim mom for 15 years as well as executive of several nonprofit organizations. Her daughter competes in the NCAA.