courtesy of Donna Hale
It is tough being a year-round, dedicated swimmer. This applies to not only those headed to Rio , but to the thousands just bound for summer champs. It is no easier being a coach with so many talent levels and the normal raging hormones of teenagers trying to find their way. So coaches here’s a message just for you from all your everyday swimmers: things they’d say if they could. And stuff you need to hear.
Yes, I spend every day with you, but do not assume I do not care if things get rough. Why would I dedicate all my free time to a sport that is not in my blood? I’d have to be crazy. Sometimes I just plain struggle, and that’s when I need you the most. Please listen not only with your head, but with your heart. If I am brave enough to reach out, reach back. I deserve that.
Not all of us are Olympic bound no matter how hard we work. We deserve your personal best too. We may not be able to be Olympians or even achieve that elusive cut. But we have dreams. We are the heart of the sport and make possible USA Swimming. After all how many teams would exist if we only trained Olympians? We want swim in the NCAA, to be our personal best, and feel proud of how hard we work. Please be there for us. We need you.
Teach with the end goal in mind. We are put on this earth to grow up and make the world better. You’re likely our biggest role models. What do you see when you look in the mirror? You ask us to reflect on our goals and swimming. Can you occasionally do the same? The example you set in failure and success will have a profound impact. Teach us how to lose and win with grace. Failure is not only ok, it is reality. Help us cope and move forward.
Remember that this is supposed to be fun. Yes we need to hear your critique. It’s part of coaching. But we need you to celebrate the gifts in all of us. Maybe it is as simple as realizing the spirit we bring or praising us for never giving up. We are learning life lessons that shape us and define you. How will you be remembered?
Donna Hale has been a swim mom for 12 years as well as executive of several nonprofit organizations. She volunteers regularly for her daughter Hannah’s USA Team The Potomac Marlins, summer team Burke Station Destroyers, and Lake Braddock Swim and Dive Bruins.