Every four years I get excited as the Olympics get closer. I admire the athletes that have poured their blood, sweat, and tears into being the best they can be to compete against the best in their sport. Their determination to achieve life long goals on becoming an Olympian is inspiring. The excitement is contagious and fuels my workouts.
When I coached swimming in Arizona I was at an age group swim meet and all of a sudden a buzz filled the pool deck. Matt Grevers was there and would be swimming. He was there to swim an event, however he took the time to take numerous pictures and sign backpacks, swim caps, and anything else the swimmers wanted signed. Most athletes of this caliber do not give our youth the amount of hope and time swimmers do. The swimmers I coached talked about this day multiple times. They were excited to see an Olympian swim in the same pool they were swimming in. They realized even Olympians have a coach instructing them to warm up before their event. It clicked that Olympians were once swimming age group swim meets like they were, hoping to improve their time.
Swimming is an amazing workout as it engages your full body. Like Pilates, it strengthens while lengthening muscles and increasing flexibility. Like yoga, it reduces stress and brings a sense of well-being. Like running, it makes the heart and lungs healthier, but is far easier on the joints. Swimming is a sport that can be enjoyed by all ages. Can swimming be boring? Of course it can. Hitting wall after wall gets old pretty fast. As long as you go into your swim with a plan, you won’t get bored. Every other workout is planned, this one is no different. To reap the benefits a plan is needed.
I have had the opportunity to coach numerous swim teams in multiple states. The pool location may have varied from indoors and outdoors, however swim meets were always the same. This was the time to achieve whatever time standard you wanted to achieve. For the little ones it was the time to finish an event without getting disqualified (DQ). Swimmers learn life lessons at meets. It’s not always easy trying to explain to a little swimmer who is crying why the official DQ’d them. However, it’s character building and will stay with them for the rest of their life.
Swimming is more than a sport, it’s a life saving skill. It’s a skill everyone should know. Did you know drowning is the first leading cause of unintentional death for children ages one to four? It’s never to early or late to learn how to swim. I encourage anyone who does not know how to swim to enroll in a local swim program. There are trained professionals to help you along the way. If you are a parent, it’s so important to make sure your child learns how to swim. They don’t have to be a competitive swimmer however, give them this life saving skill as you never know when they will need it.
If you have never watched a swimming event, I encourage you to watch one during the Olympics. I’m sure it will be on tv in the evening. Cheer loud and proud for these athletes as they are great role models for our youth. If you have a swimmer who wants to become the next Olympian, support their dream. Explain to them the amount of work they will have to put in, but don’t end their dream. Support them as their dream may come true just like the 30 first time US Olympic swimmers headed to Rio.