My two oldest kids swim for the Loomis Basin Dolphins. Since I wasn’t a swimmer growing up it has taken me a while to learn the ins and outs of how this whole swim team thing works. It’s a whole different culture with its own unique language and norms. This year though. I’m fully in. I’m watching every practice, checking times online, and offering pointers when I can (my kids think these are ridiculous because I can barely swim myself).
One unique thing about swimming (as opposed to my experience with soccer, basketball and volleyball) is that all ages from 5-18 are on the same team. This means that my 7 and 9 year olds get to watch and cheer on the first year “I sure hope they make it across the pool” swimmers as well as the 13-18 year old “holy crap, how do they swim that fast?” swimmers.
I’ll often point out to my kids some detail about an older swimmer’s stroke — “You see how she keeps her head so still? Did you notice how focused he was on the blocks?” “Watch how his legs never stop?”– and they have both started to have some older swimmers that they really look up to.
With this in mind, I would love to be able to somehow impress upon these older swimmers this simple truth: You are being watched and what you do matters. When you stand on those blocks with intense focus and determination, you are being watched and you are showing my kids how to focus. When you get all fired up about a team cheer or when you stand at the end of the pool to shout encouragement to other swimmers, you are being watched and you are teaching my kids what it’s like to be part of a team. When you finish a race and you reach over the line to shake your competitor’s hand, you are being watched and you are teaching my kids about sportsmanship. When your relay team breaks a team record, and you run around and cheer like crazy, you are being watched and you are inspiring my kids to have fun and to get better.
At the same time, when you skip warm-ups before a meet, or pout after a less than stellar performance, or slack off in practice… you are being watched.
So older swimmers, I want you to know that you are some of the people that my kids are looking up to. Keep being awesome. Keep being the type of people that I want them to look up to.
How’s that for pressure?