Ahhhhhh Summertime! Hopefully, you heard that being said in my best Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff voice. It's a time for relaxing. A time for reflection. A time for family. A time for professional development. A time to build. In our house, it's been a time to move and a time to grow our family as we prepare to adopt our little Scout. Over the last 6 years, our summers have consisted of swim practice and meets as our daughter swims competitively. The pool has become our stomping grounds. With this being an Olympic summer a lot of attention gets shifted to those sports that we all watch and go back to our childhood memories and dreams. My daughter Ava shares those same dreams as she watches Missy Franklin compete. I don't squash her dreams with statistics but merely encourage her to chase after them. After all, what do you say to an 11-year-old that wants you to write on her shoulders Eat My Bubbles....Wake Zone....Oxygen is Overrated.
You see....I know absolutely nothing about swim. My daughter can easily beat me in a race but I can still beat her in the biggest splash contest. Watching her year in and year out one learns a lot about the sport. One can't help but see the similarities between lessons in the pool and lessons in life.
1. LOVE- It takes a special kind of LOVE to wake up every morning during your summer break and want to hit the water. The first week of June the air temp was in the mid-50s and these kids were in the outdoor pool giving it all they had and getting blue lips from the cool air. Look at that smile on her face. This is after being at the pool for 4 hours. She absolutely loves the water and loves to compete. If you want to be successful you have to LOVE what you do and be willing to chase after it no matter what. LOVE should be what anchors your dreams.
2. START- This is the moment in the race that swimmers truly zone in. She rises up on the starting block and has to mentally block out all the noise. She doesn't start by sight but by sound. A simple beep is her trigger to hit the water head first. The water is relentless. It's cold. It can cause you pain if you hit it at the wrong angle. For no fear exists in her mind as years of practice have taught her how to hit the water at just the right angle and glide as far as she can with limited friction. It's almost poetic as she meets the water and begins her kicks to propel down the lane. If we want to make it in life we have to be willing to START. Embrace the #UNCOMFORTABLE You can't tip your toes in the water to see if it's cold you have to go all in. You may experience a false start but you get a do-over.
3. BTY- Yes, swimming is a team sport but it is a team made of individuals. One where some swim better long distances or sprints. One where some are better at different strokes over others. Most importantly one that stresses the importance of personal bests. A great swim meet isn't always about winning your heats as much as it is about getting your personal best times. My daughter understands the saying...Better Than Yesterday. That's her goal. Always swim better than you did yesterday. Even if the difference is by a hundredth of a second it's still better. What if you lived your life this way? Making each day better than the one before. Imagine what you could accomplish with this mindset!
4.DETAILS- She has executed her best start and finds herself in the water. This is not a friendly place, The water is not your friend. It's very nature is too slow you down and drag you under. This is where executing all the details of practice come into play. The moments of her first years of swimming and laying on the dry ground practicing hand movements begin to pay off. The perfect stroke. The powerful kicks. The side breathing. All must become synchronized for optimal performance if you wish to overcome the grip of the water. Every DETAIL has been rehearsed to the point that they have become instinct. Pay attention to the DETAILS in life not because they add up but because they design your life. If you want to have a life you love, a life worth living, then fill it with DETAILS of greatness. Along the way don't forget to breathe. Unplug for a bit and reflect on the DETAILS. Focus on what got you to this point and what will get where you need to go.
5. TRUST- Usually at the beginning or end of a meet you will find relays. A four-person unit will represent the team to compete against others. Here TRUST is built as each member is relied upon to do their best. After all, each relay team is only as fast as their weakest swimmer. This TRUST is built from time in the pool together. These girls go to battle together and seize the moment to lift one another up. They cheer so loud you can hear their screams across the pool and it penetrates the water to deliver encouragement. Here comebacks are mounted and sometimes failure is handed out. But as a team the TRUST that has been built overcomes. It shines through like a beacon of hope. We are meant to do life with others. We must embrace differences and place our TRUST in them if we want to bring out the best in each other. Your vibe attracts your tribe! Build your relationships on TRUST and common goals. Without TRUST in your life, you would live in a state of worry. If you are a person that struggles with this then what are you waiting for? TRUST starts today!
6. FINISH STRONG- As she makes her final flip turn off the wall you can see the exhaustion kicking in. Her feet aren't motoring as fresh and her breathing has become labored. But in this moment a simple prompt from the coach can be heard....FINISH STRONG. A spark is created. Her kicks come alive and determination to finish propels her faster to the wall. Swimming is a sport of mere seconds. In Olympic races competitors literally finish within tenths and hundredths of a second from one another. Just think of the Michael Phelps miracle finish in Beijing where he simply outreached his opponent with a final lunge at the end! It's important to FINISH what you have started. Don't give up so easily on yourself. Never give in because you become tired. You've already endured the pain and the end is near. FINISH STRONG! Believe in yourself and help others find their belief.
I look forward to watching my daughter swim for years to come. More importantly, I look forward to watching her do what she loves. I won't push her to win the Olympics but I will support her dreams. See ya poolside and Eat My Bubbles!
I would love to hear what you think. Leave some feedback in the comments and share the lessons from the pool with others. Big shout out to my daughter who actually helped with the content of this blog.