Courtesy: Donna Hale
Earlier this week, I read an important quote about the importance of finding your circle – or as some call it – your tribe. Nowhere is this more important than in college swimming. Twenty years from now, you won’t remember every win or loss; and your medals and trophies will be packed away. But I can promise you this. If you are in the right tribe, you will remember your circle. You will likely even still be in touch with these amazing friends. The quote went on to say that if your circle is not as invested in your success and cheering the loudest, find a new circle.
The greatest gift any coach can give their swimmers is a powerful and life-changing culture. Nothing matters more. The most successful teams are built around a culture of trust, challenge, fun, and spirit. In other words, their circle inspires everyone to be their best self and to support each other on the mountaintop and in the darkest moments. As a swimmer you deserve nothing less and should give this circle your all. If you are not experiencing this precious gift, it’s time to move on and up. Here are the components of a powerful and passionate circle.
1. Teammates talk to one another not about one another. Drama is minimal, and not an accepted part of the circle culture. And swimmers feel great about completing many hard sets because they are all in it together.
2. The leaders inspire new members to take chances, to trust one another and to set shining examples. Everyone is a valued member of the circle.
3. The experience is fun. Yes, swimmers should love this with all their hearts. Otherwise, why do it? Laughter is an every-day occurrence. And competition is healthy and motivating in practice and in competition. Show me a team that has no spirit, and you can bet they are missing out on the wonderful experience of enjoying and growing in a supportive circle.
4. Coaches are tough, but supportive. They build persons of character and not just individual winners. The team comes first. They set the tone for something you want to be a part of. You want to enter the circle even when you are exhausted, and taper is weeks away.
5. Swimmers have each other’s back – not just in pool but in all aspects of life. You can spot these powerful circles on deck. You can see the hugs, high fives, the synergistic energy, and even the occasional tears.
As you continue in this wonderful journey, find and your circle and know that you belong there.
Donna Hale has been Swim Mom for 16 years. Her daughter competes in NCAA.