A Good Swimmer
Off the Blocks
June 3, 2014
Our first loss. No worries, there are bound to be more, nestled amongst the wins and the nail biters. Besides, just because the numbers added up meant a loss, doesn't mean the night was a total loss. There were some incredible swims, people coming from behind, close wall touches, screams and cheers. It was a rush!
I was very proud of our team last night. I sat under the glow of the incandescent, lightning bugs, a few mosquitoes, and these tiny little green grasshopper-looking things that liked to crawl up the screen, transferring times into the computer (author’s note - sorry if I screwed your ribbon up), because two of our teammates lost their grandfather Sunday night. Brave girls, they still swam and did awesome, but their father had to leave to help his family. I was so proud of them, both relatively new to the sport of swimming, they carried on representing their new team with dignity and joy.
We could all take a lesson from that. Not eleven and seven years old, and they had the grace to cheer on their teammates, putting aside their sadness. We faced adversity last night. The toughest team in the league, we held our own through the individual events, but as sometimes happens the relays got us. What knocks us down only makes us stronger though, and I think there were some amazing moments.
So what did we learn?
What do we take away from a loss?
On the technical side, kicking is huge.
The kick, done properly originates from the hip. Whether dolphin (knees and ankles glued together) which actually originates from the shoulders, flutter (toes pointed, knees locked), or whip, also known as breast-stroke (feet flexed, knees out in synchronicity that kicks into the glide, not concurrently with the pull, but in succession), is a FULL TWO-THIRDS of your body. More in the case of dolphin kick.
To ignore or to do only half a kick, is to ignore more than half of you body.
I ask you swimmers this, what if you took an exam at school and ignored two-thirds of the questions. Would you pass?
In fact, it would be a spectacular fail.
Swimming is a little different, because there is upper body work too, but still, wouldn’t we all like to get across the pool with less swimming? Kicking is your friend. It’s also good for your heart … just saying.
Emotionally and intellectually, what did we learn?
Swimming is fun.
Swimming is amazing.
I bet most of the parents out there can’t do what you kids can do. Even me and I swim! I might be able to beat my Bennett, but Lizzie I’m not so sure about and you can forget about Mollie. You should take pride in your ability to do what you can do. Practice it every day, respecting your coaches.
Listen to your coaches. They have skills, they have knowledge. They’ve been in the trenches of state meets and county meets, out of town meets and sectional meets. They understand the pressure, the nerves. They’ve had coaches in their faces, making them do pushups, swim the 1650 free for time during practice or do so many abs, they would for sure fall out! Utilize their strategies.
Watch them and learn. Every one of them started out like you, just a kid on the Torpedoes, but they took the time to learn, they took the time to respect their coaches’ decisions and rules and know that what hurts today won’t be so bad two days from now.
Ask questions. If you don’t understand why Coach Jess wants you to flick your thigh during freestyle, if that seems silly to you, ask why. You would be surprised by the answer, but maybe not because it's quite logical, finishing your stroke gives you 6-10 more inches with each pull. All adds up to less swimming. If Coach Cullen wants you to swim your fly with no breath and you just can’t possibly … ask him why. See if keeping your head in a neutral position makes a difference to your fly.
A good swimmer … is a smart swimmer.
You’ve got the world at your fingertips. Grab it!