Summer Swimming: Giving Individuals and What Is Right About the Sport
I’ve been around this sport for a long time now, fortunate to have come to many realizations. The work necessary to succeed. The way swimming builds focus and determination. The tight-knit nature of the aquatic community. This list could go on, but I think the picture is clear.
This summer, though, has enhanced my appreciation for swimming and the individuals involved in various capacities. See, this summer is the first in which two of my daughters (the third will join in next year) are participating in summer swimming. We’re at the Willow Grove Swim Club in New Jersey, and our family is beyond lucky to belong to this summer family.
Some mornings are easier than others in terms of the girls getting up for morning practice. But way more often than not, smiles cross their faces. Maybe from time spent with friends. Maybe from the pride of learning a new skill, or simply improving from the previous day. Maybe from this realization: “Dad, I’m not nearly as tired as I was when we first started.” Really, it’s so many little things that truly add up.
Each day, I see caring college and high-school aged coaches – former summer leaguers themselves – provide encouragement and dedicate themselves to the kids with whom they are working. They give tips from the pool deck. They hop in the water with the swimmers. They applaud improvements and keep a youngster’s morale up when a certain task might be a struggle.
Each day, I see the pool staff working hard to prepare the facility for the day ahead and make the adjustments necessary for different activities. Carrying tables to the roof of the office, so they can be used for scoring that night’s meet. Placing and then removing the starting blocks, and then placing them again.
There’s also the Athletics Chair and his team doing unseen work. Getting the heat sheets together. Checking in with the coaches. Answering questions.
There are the parent volunteers, working as announcers, marshals, ribbon writers, scorers…and generally being supportive of the kids. Some young athletes might be nervous, but they receive constant reminders that all will be ok. High-fives and positive words go a long way.
And then there are the swimmers. Some under eight years old. Some in the last days of their summer careers. It’s uplifting to watch someone learn a new stroke, how to perform a flip turn or dive off the starting block for the first time. It’s awesome to see someone celebrate a best time, knowing their hard work and dedication paid off.
Yes, I’ve been around this sport for a long time and have seen some cool things, from Melbourne to Beijing to London to Barcelona, and many more locales. I’m lucky. Well, this summer ranks right up there…and I’ve been just down the street at our summer club.
It’s Good in the Grove.