Courtesy: Donna Hale
My daughter’s longtime club coach has a saying. I cannot even imagine the numbers of times I heard it: trust the process. It was his way of letting swimmers know that every race will not be a PB, and there will be ups and downs. But he believed that if you put in the work, over the long run you’d become your best self and best swimmer. My daughter is about to enter her third season in the NCAA with a brand new team in their first season. She will be one of the veterans and knows that it is her role to help build a culture of joy, respect and fun and lead by example.
She has come to learn that Coach Bill was right. However, she’s discovered that his advice runs deeper than making you a better swimmer. To be a happy athlete and successful person, you must embrace and trust the journey – learning to love all the moments along the way.
She is excited about being part of creating something that will thrive for decades and longer. Mostly she’s thrilled to be part of a tribe of people who’ve got your back and for whom you would do anything to ensure success and amazing moments. She left something behind to ultimately find what her heart and soul longs for: being part of something bigger than herself – a team that inspires and excels.
These decisions are hard. But they are worth the change if you trust the journey. What does that mean for a swimmer.
- At the end of the day, it’s usually best to follow your heart. It already knows who you want to be and how to get there. Listen to your heart.
- Change is hard, but also uplifting. The easy choices are not always the ones that take you to the mountaintop. No one ever promised college athletics would be easy. But, if it is your destiny, it is so worth it. Amazing friendships. Incredible memories. A journey you will never forget.
- Leave the past in the past. Sure it is important to move forward using all you have learned. It is equally imperative to be present in the moment absorbing all you can in these fleeting moments. One day before you know it the moments will be memories.
- Bask at times in the solitude of swimming. Hours spent between the lane lines can offer moments of self-reflection that only swimmers can understand. Sometimes the silence speaks volumes. You learn a lot about yourself.
- Give back. Service has been a constant along my daughter’s swimming journey. You’ll learn lessons not available in the pool. Service also creates team bonding – one of the great benefits of the sport.
- Set goals and chase dreams. But grab the joy. It is often disguised as hard work like 1200 IM for time. Yes, my swimmer girl has done that. Or 10000 yards of free the morning after Thanksgiving. She’s done that. Or lifting weights in the early morning hours when your body is screaming sleep. She’s done that too. As you compete in athletics and do it for many years you learn the most important lesson of all. Your journey is the dream.
About Donna Hale
Donna Hale has been a swim mom for 16 years. Her daughter Hannah will swim this fall for the University of Lynchburg Hornets in its first season for decades.