Thursday, August 25, 2011


Hi Friends!

As most of you know, I have been a swim coach for the last 4 years.  I have been an assistant coach and a head coach, but always on a year-round club team.  Up until 3 weeks ago, that is.  Three weeks ago I started coaching the girls swim team at Neenah High School.  The high school season is relatively short--it runs from mid-August through the end of October, although the Varsity team goes on to compete at conference, sectionals and state until mid-November.  Unlike a club team where I had the luxury of time, the NHS swimmers hit the ground running and swim like crazy from day one.  We started our season on the 8th of August and had our first meet on the 19th.  For those of you counting, that's 12 days. 

Now for our upperclassmen and those freshmen who swim club, 12 days of practice before a meet is no problem.  They come into high school season ready to compete.  But for 10 of the freshmen and sophomores who joined the team not knowing how to swim, 12 days is not a lot of time.  In the first 12 days they learned how to swim freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly.  They learned how to do flipturns and how to dive off a block.  It was crazy.  Seriously.  But through it all, those 10 ladies listened and worked and tried incredibly hard.  Last week, all 10 represented Neenah High School at their very first swim meet.  I couldn't have been more proud.  Oh, sure, there were some missed flip turns and a few DQ's, but the whole time I kept thinking, "I can't believe these girls are competing 12 days into the season!"

Yesterday we were at day 17.  On day 17, the entire swim and dive team competed in a triathlon.  They swam 1,000 yards, biked 6 miles and ran 1 mile.  One thousand yards, non-stop, is kind of a lot.  Especially for a new swimmer.  Coach Raeth gave the new girls the option of swimming 500 yards or 1,000.  Two of the new girls chose to go ahead and swim the whole 1,000.  It wasn't easy for either of them.  I watched them swim, touch the wall, push off and continue on.  Swim.  Touch the wall.  Push off.  Continue on.  About 3/4 of the way, both girls looked close to tears.  Both girls were the last two in the pool, long after everyone else was out on the bike route.  But both girls kept going and finished all 1,000 yards.

Later, I watched those two girls run their mile around the track.  Neither girl stopped, they just kept running.  At the end, one of the two girls was all alone running around the big, black track long after the rest of the team was back at the pool eating Snocones.  She just kept running.

At the end of the practice there were lots of cheers for the girls who came in first, second and third.  And there should be.  Those girls worked hard and finished strong.  They have a lot to be proud of.  

But, honestly, I can't help but be most proud of those two new swimmers;  the two who chose to take on the extra challenge.  Those two swimmers showed me what they are made of yesterday.  They didn't finish first, second, or third, but to me, their legacy will always be so much more.

To me, they will always be the two new swimmers who came through day 17 like champions.

Congratulations, Marissa and Stephanie.  You two are ROCK STARS!



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