I learned to swim at the age of 4 from my oldest sister, after having failed group swim lessons. Once I got the hang of it, and shed my fear, I was in love. The water has always been my “happy place”, whether the pool or the beach, and at the age of 10, I was recruited onto a summer league team. I did well, but never enjoyed the social and competitive dynamics of competition swimming, even though I ended up swimming summer league, year round and high school on a high level. In all honesty, my own competition experience strangled my love of the water.
Then at the age of 16, I was asked to help coach on my summer team, and I fell in love again. Interacting with younger swimmers, teaching what I knew, getting to be a part of their success, connected me to my sport in a way my own swimming hadn’t. I learned quickly that there was MUCH more to coaching than simply barking out sets and standing next to the pool. Athletes perform better when their heads and hearts are relaxed, and when the balance between the physical training and the personal spirit is right.
My strongest gifts as a coach were not the super-technical, scientific, let’s-measure-everything ones. Mine were in the “soft” stuff, the mortar between the bricks: what is the mood? where is the tension coming from? where is the gap in understanding? what are they insecure about? I combined that with strong technical skills, and an ability to communicate with my athletes honestly and on their level, and was blessed with a very satisfying and rewarding coaching career. I was able to have a job that loved me back, and it was a gift.
I retired from coaching a few months ago, but quickly realized that I still had all this great stuff in my head that I wanted to share. Eventually, the universe whispered “Blog it!” in my ear, and this space was born! I hope you enjoy, and perhaps get a little something out of it that helps you or makes you smile. Thank you for visiting.