Courtesy of Donna Hale
As the holiday season begins, this is a great time to reflect on the blessings of swimming. We have the best coaches, athletes and parents of any sport I have been connected with – and that list is long. So as we stop and thank everyone, here are the traits we admire in each of the sport’s important players. These kinds of leaders, are the heart of SwimGiving.
Coaches are the spirit and soul of swimming. Here’s what the best of the best bless us with every day. They create team bonding and a powerful culture that brings out the best in each swimmer, and in the entire team. They set a powerful example by how they communicate and how they develop the swimming experience for each athlete. They encourage swimmers to support each other in practice and at meets. Most of all they realize that their primary role is to build character and future leaders. They rarely talk about other coaches. Great coaches inspire courage, grace, and excellence because it is the right thing to do. We celebrate these coaches who make the sport fantastic.
The swimming journey would not be possible without the dedicated athletes full of dreams, passion and purpose. The best swimmers are the superstar teammates. They know that swimming is not about just personal success or breaking records. It’s about support, determination, and being there for each other. They understand their obligation to give back in small measures of kindness and bold initiatives that change lives. These swimmers light up the pool with their fire and resilience. We celebrate these athletes who are the shining stars of our sport. Look around and you will see them in summer pools, at club meets and on college teams.
Very few swimmers would pursue swimming with grit and determination without their parents. Parents provide carpools, towels, fresh goggles, food and more food, and countless volunteer hours. They provide emotional support during every phase of a swimming journey. The role changes with time just like the seasons. Parents remind their athletes that most likely one day their swimmer will “take your mark” for the very last time. They will compete in their last race, shake their competition’s hand, and glance at the clock. All the moments in between matter most of all. Parents are the constant source of support from 8 and unders to the NCAAs. We celebrate swim parents for being there through the process. Their giving back makes the wonderful, crazy, life-changing journey possible
Give thanks for the coaches, athletes and parents for all that give to make life between the lane lines so much fun. Happy SwimGiving.
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.