One of the great charities created in the sports arena is the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research, founded by the legendary coach known for his famous speech when dying of cancer: Never Give Up! Never Ever Give Up! He encouraged us all to live in the moment. His close friend Coach K from Duke University recently made a tribute video encouraging us to “Pursue Moments.”
This is so incredibly important in a sport like swimming where an illness or an injury can cause setbacks and sadly for some endings. An important meet weekend can be hijacked by the flu. And then you have those weekends that are the perfect storm of everything going right. Having experienced this with both my kids in sports, including swimming, I started to think about what profound advice this is. It’s just as much about the experience as the outcome. So whether you’re at the top of your game in the pool or struggling to make a comeback, here are a few thoughts on embracing the idea: “Pursue Moments.”
Celebrate the little things each day.
One day you will realize these were the big things after all. Hanging out with your swim pals is one of the best parts of this sport. Be present in the moment. When my daughter was quite young she and a friend changed their coaches iPad screen to show photos of them. He did not know how to change it back. Silly yes, but good for so many laughs. Or endless games of cards during long meets. One time my daughter had everyone making duck tape flip flops between events. “Pursue Moments!”
Savor the successes and learn from mistakes.
The only real failure is giving up. Swimming is exhilarating. It is also humbling. You can do all the right things and get a cold for the big meet. You can work for years and get hurt at a key time in your career. Sometimes you can do everything right and fall short. And when you least expect it, a small victory can reaffirm that it is worth every hour swimming between the lane lines. Embrace the process and fall in love with it. “Pursue Moments!”
Be a great teammate.
No matter your personal ups and downs with swimming, this is something you can all do. You are all bound together by grueling sets, sleep deprivation, towel fights, and post workout breakfasts to refuel. But each day you create memories that last a lifetime. This is the good stuff. “Pursue Moments!”
Appreciate your journey.
It can be really hard to never get that elusive cut or make that big meet. While you should always do your best, do not value your worth as a person by your times in the pool. Most of us are not Olympic bound. But the lessons we learn in the pool carry forward in everything we will ever do. Our character as we chase our dreams does define us. Stop and smell the chlorine. Bask in the serenity of a long set when you are gliding through the water immersed in your thoughts. “Pursue Moments!”
One day this will be over.
But swimming will always be part of you. And you’ll pass this love along to kids you coach or maybe your children and grandchildren. So heed the words of Jimmy V: Never Ever Give Up! Every day when you step on that pool deck: “Pursue Moments.”
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.