We just returned from the Winter Junior National meet in Greensboro, North Carolina. The fastest 18 and under swimmers in the country attended and WOW – it was indeed fast. Go online to USA Swimming and check out the results, or use Meet Mobile. It is a very intimidating meet and yet very inspiring.
Our four swimmers, three of whom were first timers, got a real education…and were disappointed due to missed opportunities. And that is the price of raised expectations. We never go to a meet just happy we made the qualifying standard, looking to add to our T-shirt collection. We tell our swimmers that unless they are willing to plunge head first into the melee and be willing to get bounced around then the belly of the beast is no place for them. Stay home and we will bring a T-shirt back for you.
Our goal at big meets is to earn night time swims. Swimming “under the lights”, as we call it, is what competitive racing is all about; make a final (usually top 24) and then see what you can do at night. If you are in the meet you have a shot…but you must be prepared to do something special, usually something you haven’t yet done.
Without raised expectations you have no chance. When you miss you get disappointment. And that is perfectly fine from where we sit. We learn so much more from failure than success. We also learn just how badly we want something. All four of our swimmers will come back more determined than ever.
That is who they are down to each individual one.
We allow our swimmers to be disappointed but never discouraged. The word discouraged means, literally, a lack of courage. None of our national level swimmers lack courage. In fact, very few swimmers on our team lack courage, especially the older ones. We teach the value of taking chances and holding your head up high regardless of the outcome. As Ken says, “have a great race, move on; have a poor race, move on.”
Wise words from an exceptional coach...