I got lucky only having 7 course hours to take my last semester of college. I’m technically a part-time student, so I’ve had the flexibility to work a great internship and be able to focus a lot of attention on my position at The Sentinel. Seven is a weird number, and I really didn’t want to pay KSU more tuition than I had to, so I had to find a 1 credit hour class to fill the spot. I came across Beginners Swimming and quickly signed right up. I’ve been a competitive swimmer since I was seven, and have taught swim lessons and coached swim team since 2008. I love swimming and teaching, so I thought I found the perfect class for my already easy semester. I actually laughed at how easy I expected it to be. And for the most part, I was right. I was not expecting to learn anything new, which I now realize is a horrible attitude to have towards a class about something I’m passionate about. I soon found out I was wrong, and was schooled back to the basics. The coach made us slow down and focus on our technique and mechanics. It gave me a lot of inspiration to do the same with my swim team that I’ll be coaching this month. The class wasn’t ‘hard’ or anything, but it definitely made me think about swimming and coaching from a new perspective. It was unexpected, and it made me realize that no matter how many years you’ve been doing it, you can always learn from others and add to your expertise.
There were a number of people in the class who had no swimming experience at all. Since the coach knew I had taught before, he asked me to help out when he was busy with other classmates. I was able to help a number of my classmates figure out how to be comfortable and trust the water. I feel that it’s one of my strengths in coaching is that I’m empathetic with the swimmer. I can understand the fear and rationalize it with them, and use relatable approaches to explain how swimming works. I’m a good coach, and I know it’s because I have this characteristic. I realized how lucky I was to get a refresh on my coaching skills right before my last season with my team. I was about to go into another summer of coaching and teaching private lessons, so I had to be sharp.
I’ve been the Head Coach for the Hampton Farms Hurricanes in Marietta, GA for the past two summers. I joined the team after a last-ditch effort to find a coaching job (I had been on the fence about doing it, so I was late to the party). When I was in high school I was an assistant coach for the Mountain Creek Dolphins for three undefeated seasons. It felt good to be on a team, and I was a good swimmer in my prime. Summer league swim team has some of my best memories, and I was definitely missing it. I hadn’t coached in two summers because of going to college, and I had really lost sight of my love of swimming. When the coordinator from Hampton Farms called me and asked me to come down to see a practice, I knew they needed my help. She was worried that the recent high school graduate they hired wasn’t going to keep the team in line well enough. I stepped in and put my skills to work, helping each kid I could, getting in the water with them, and really doing my thing. The kids loved me, and I helped the coordinators stay organized and communicated with the parents. It was the perfect job, and it came during one of the best summers of my life. The Hurricanes hadn’t had won a meet in a couple seasons, and hadn’t had a winning season in something like 10 years. In my first season we went 3-2, winning the last three meets of the season. The first two losses were by less than 20 points, which is not a lot in swimming where the final scores are in the hundreds of points. I felt really proud of my team, and in the second season we had another successful 3-2 year. A week from today I’ll be starting the first practice of the season for my last time. I feel like I had a great run being involved in summer league, and I’m sure when I have kids in the future I’ll be volunteering to be the coordinator, and get involved however I can. Though I’m about to retire, I’m still confident I have some new tricks up my sleeve and I’m looking forward to making this last season be memorable and successful.