Why I Love Being a Swim Coach
As most of you know, I was a swim coach (for the first time ever) this winter swim season. Being a swim coach has been on my “life list” for a while, so I was really excited to join this team. But, if I’m being honest, I also went into the job thinking “Sweet. I can make more local connections and a little side money.” Both which I’ve done. Both a bonus. But both enTIREly the wrong mindset, which I was happy to figure out early in the season.
But let’s back up a little. I’m awkward. Like “I’m the new girl in class, tripped on my backpack, AND spilled my milk on the cafeteria table” kind of awkward. EVEN around kids. Wait, ESPECIALLY around kids. What do I talk to them about? What TV shows are cool these days? What even ARE those neon elastic bracelets they are wearing? No, I don’t have that app, never heard of it.” Hashtag SO OLD.
Knowing this about myself, I made a decision. I’d be really nice to the kids, teach them to be better swimmers, and pretty much leave it at that. Keep a safe distance. Don’t embarrass myself. And only coach for one season.
I honestly never thought that I’d fall in love with every single one of my ducklings (as I so lovingly dubbed them). I never thought I could become so invested in the lives of 60+ kids I’d just met. Or that I’d be looking a doubtful 8 year old in the eye, reminding him “You’re really good. Please believe that, ok?” Or telling them that they’d be winning States someday.
Midway through the season, it hit me, and I realized that I wasn’t coaching for the money anymore. I was coaching so I could see the kids every week. So we could chat about Glee and Frozen and the Lego Movie (yeah, seen ‘em all). So they could tell me about the songs they’re singing in the school play, or what they learned at Chinese school last weekend. And at the meets, to be there to see them dive off the blocks for the first time, or qualify for the A meet! (most! exciting! thing! ever!) I felt like a proud big sister every time they were so excited about accomplishing something new and awesome. And when things didn’t go the way they wanted, my job was to remind them that it was just one race, and there would be more.
I remember (and could name off the top of my head right now) the coaches that made a difference in my swimming years. The ones who took extra time to teach me proper butterfly technique and cheered for me at the end of my lane. The ones who reminded me over and over again that I was good enough.
I’m not claiming to have had that same impact on my ducklings, I mean, it’s only been one season. But at the championship meet this weekend, I realized that they definitely had an impact on me. Their little laughs make me laugh, too. Their conversations, also hilarious. Their excitement for races gets me excited. Their nervousness, too, I feel it for them. I caught myself jumping up and down during a really close relay this afternoon! It’s just too exciting, to watch these little ones improve, and some even grow 4 inches during the season.
Yeah, I probably sound like the weirdest EVER (and add to that weirdness, I’m crying as I write this. Yup, this is going to be a long off-season)
And that’s why I love being a swim coach.