Sunday, June 27, 2010

When Size Really Does Matter

We often get asked the question about body types and swimming. This particularly comes up when parents of a younger swimmer are concerned that their child may not "have what it takes" to be a great athlete.

Our first - and always unspoken - reaction is, Whoa! Do we as parents really want to be looking at our kids that way? And then we have our first overt reaction...We cannot at any time early in a person's development know what their final position in life will be. We are not able to tell about swimming or school or eventual vocation etc.

What we do know from our experience is that it is foolish to try to predict based upon any early success or for that matter any early lack of success. We also know that the world is full of folks with huge amounts of obvious potential who do very little with it. Conversely the world is populated with many people who have what appear to be ordinary skills who achieve extraordinary results. Sports is an obvious field where these two discrepancies standout. Having said that, if we were academicians we would no doubt have similar observations. From our own personal standpoint we know this to be true in the field of medicine. We have known doctors who obviously have passed all the tests but we wouldn't want to spend too much time in their care.

So what does matter?

The size of a person's desire matters. Give us a swimmer who is excited about the opportunity that swimming affords and we want her on our team. We love swimmers who have passion for the sport.

The size of their ambition matters. Does he want to get faster? If so, we want him on our team.

What about the respect factor? Does she understand the relationship between respect for self and team and how those two go hand in hand for her development? If yes, then we want her.

How big is their brain? We use this not in the anatomical sense but rather the sense of how well does he connect the dots? Does this swimmer have the ability to figure things out? If he can do this, or exhibits the willingness to learn how to do this, then we want him on our team.

None of these attributes is determined by physical size. They are rather determined by a person's character. Give us a person of any physical stature who is a giant in the character department and we will be at the pool ready to coach that swimmer on a moment's notice.

Perhaps it is time to take inventory of your team or yourself. Champions come in all shapes and sizes. Look at any Olympic Team if you are not certain about this!

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