Courtesy of Donna Hale
I am pleased to speak about your many accomplishments on behalf of the sport and the world on the 20th anniversary of your last season of club swimming. Yes, I can remember you as if it was yesterday just as I can the hundreds of talented and idealistic kids who have been part of this team. I am proud that your mom and dad are here too.
As a swimmer, you were brimming with talent and idealism. Like so many who choose this sport, you could win any race. Your courage, raw passion, and mind over matter attitude propelled you to the wall – sometimes by a millisecond and others by a lap. Watching you race was maddening and joyous. Thank you. Everyone of my swimmers is a gift on loan for a short time and it’s my job to get you ready. And your parents are proud of your hard work.
You made your mark in the college world too- setting a number of team records at your university. I loved getting your texts and videos of racing and conference meets. And you were beaming when you wrote me about your engagement to another young Swimmer just before you graduated with honors.
I was especially delighted when you became a Vice President at your firm and wrote me how the work ethic you learned from swimming helped you succeed in the workforce. You talked about the early morning workouts being a prelude to breakfast meetings and meet weekends resembling business retreats.
Perhaps what touched me most was the videos of your two children in their first swim lessons and at their mini-meets. After all your talk of not being like your parents on race day there you were cheering poolside louder than everyone.
Twenty years goes by in a blink.
As we celebrate 20 years later what swimming meant to you and what you meant to us, I am forced to draw deep into my imagination for these memories. I must imagine because all of this was taken from us when you and your friends got into that car 20 years ago after drinking and driving and crashing into a tree.
I am telling this story to reach one of you or hundreds of you talented swimmers who have so much to give the world and may think life is guaranteed or you are invincible. We love you. We want to see these dreams realized. Do not drink and drive. Call us. Call a teammate. Call your parents. Call any swim parent. We want you here for these celebrations.
We are swim coaches and parents everywhere who are longing for the chance to see you race again, hide out in the locker room from a tough set, or leave your wet towels everywhere. We are used to getting up at 4 am and we secretly love it.
You will be our legacy. Please be here.
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.