Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Simple Concept with Enormous Impact

This gem is completely in line with our recent discussions about how a team works and the value of contributing to that team. As we ready ourselves for the final meet of the season, we shall all – swimmers, coaches, parents – have our candles lit.
"THE CANDLE"   an article by Chip Hardy

"Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle and the life of the candle will not be shortened."  The Buddha
Most of us have been to candle lighting ceremonies at our churches or synagogues.  For me, it's always a fascinating event!  The room is pitch black then one single candle is lit--it lights another--then both candles light other candles, etc., until every candle held by everyone in the room is lighted.  The room, once completely dark, becomes filled with light!

Candle lighting services are metaphors for many different things in the world--peace, love, faith, etc.  The point being that anything we deem as "good" can be begun by one person and passed on to many others.  Unfortunately, things we also deem as "bad" can also be spread starting with one person!

How many of us have been in a room, possibly waiting for a meeting at work to begin, all chatting and laughing when someone walks in with a scowl on their face and an aura as dark as a storm cloud?  For any of us that have been there we know how it feels!  The air seems to almost immediately be let out of the balloon and what was a room full of anticipation and happiness becomes a "room of gloom".  The lighted candles seem to have all been extinguished by one candle snuffer!

No matter though how many candle snuffers we may encounter on our journeys in this life it is important to remember that we can light many more candles than one snuffer can put out.  In fact it is our job here to try and make this world the best place we can--one person at a time if necessary!  Our jobs are much different than our employments or the way we earn our livings.  Employment pays the bills--our jobs make us happy and our lives fulfilling!

Our jobs are not burdensome and don't involve a lot of our time and effort.  Give a simple smile to the bank teller or the grocery store clerk, or say “good morning” to a complete stranger.  Little things for sure but you as a lighted candle just may light someone else's candle!  They in turn may be friendly and kind to someone else simply because you were that way with them.
Shine and keep your candle lit!  You never know how far your little light may go!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

When vs. If

We, North Bay Aquatics, had our annual end of season BBQ and team party last week. It is always a grand time having swimmers of all ages and their parents come together to celebrate our team. And we always celebrate the team aspect of what we do.
We do not have trophies for outstanding or most improved swimmers in the various age groups. What we do have is a unique patch (similar to a merit badge but larger) each year that swimmers can sow onto their backpacks or peg to their bulletin board at home. It has the team logo and a funny/fun, usually semi-reverent quote on the border.
We also had a “guest” appearance by our own Theo St. Francis.
Theo headed off to M.I.T. last August full of promise and enthusiasm. While there during a pre-school function with one of his classes he was injured, severely. He was paralyzed from the chest down. He became, in his words, “much more familiar with the human body and its functionality than I ever imagined.” He is currently home here in California rebuilding his body’s ability. He is able to do this because his spinal cord was heavily traumatized but thankfully not ruptured or broken.
Additionally he is a super motivated guy who sees progress nearly every week. He is determined to stand on his own again. Last week in his SCI-FIT therapy work (spinal cord injury’s version of Cross Fit) in Pleasanton, CA his trainer asked him this question.
“Theo, what are you going to do with your wheelchair when you no longer need it?”
Theo told us in the time it took him to ponder his answer he realized that while he had always thought about standing and walking on his own it really had been a matter of “if” and not “when”. Now that he was thinking about the chair and what to do with it “when” that very special day arrives he realized this would be the defining moment. “When” not “If” is huge.
This year’s event will go down in history as the year we learned the most significant lesson in the difference between “If” I make my cut vs. “When” I make my cut.
Each swimmer has goals. They have a really good shot at success if they commit to what happens “when” not “if” they make those goals a reality.
For a more complete idea of who Theo is go to and search for Team Theo. All who know him are honored to be on his Team.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Value of Team

This from Wikipedia:

“A team comprises a group of people in a common purpose. Human teams are especially appropriate for conducting tasks that are high in complexity and have many interdependent subtasks.
A group does not necessarily constitute a team. Teams normally have members with complementary skills and generate synergy through a coordinated effort which allows each member to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Naresh Jain (2009) claims:

Team members need to learn how to help one another, help other team members realize their true potential, and create an environment that allows everyone to go beyond his or her limitations.
A team becomes more than just a collection of people when a strong sense of mutual commitment creates synergy, thus generating performance greater than the sum of the performance of its individual members.”

We here at North Bay Aquatics believe that our swim team is reflective of many of the above sentiments. We have young age groupers, older swimmers with regional and or national aspirations, college or college bound swimmers, Masters Swimmers with all sorts of agendas including pool racing, open water racing, ocean channel crossings, tri-athlete competition and general overall health and fitness.

This is indeed a very divergent group with many different subsets of interests. We work tirelessly in the pursuit of uniting each of the different groups into our NBA Team. We have swimmers who train once or twice a week, usually on the weekend when they don’t have to go to work. We have swimmers who train 6 days a week, often twice a day. They have a different agenda. We have every imaginable variation in between those two extremes. And do we ever have a team!

All on the team are made aware of the contribution they make. It is like the jigsaw puzzle you do at the family reunion. Everyone is around the table with a thousand pieces looking at the picture on the box and attempting to figure out what the piece they hold in their hand means and where it fits in the grand scheme of the puzzle.

If you are a 10 and under at the local meet, or a 12 year old at the Junior Olympics, or a 16 year old National swimmer, or a 45 year old Masters at the local Open Water swim…or simply someone who comes to the pool for exercise and the “hit” off of the rest of the “Team” you know how you fit into the overall scheme of things.

We focus on making certain that all who are members know they make a difference…you already know the answer to the question of “Why do we do that?”…it is simply that everyone does make a difference…and we do mean everyone.

We are certain there are many other teams like ours. Why? Because registration in all levels of swimming is up significantly. If your team isn’t like ours then you have two choices; turn your team into one and if that isn’t possible for whatever the reason(s) then find one that is.

A team is so much more rewarding…and by the way, you will stay connected longer and be more fit…and if speed is your thing, you will swim faster as well.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

So, What’s Your Plan?

End of the summer season is coming up faster than you think and we are urging all of you, coaches and swimmers alike to have your plan for finishing up. Ken here at North Bay Aquatics uses the analogy of landing the plane. Wait until the last minute and you end up with a nosedive; begin too early and you fall short of the runway…here in San Francisco that means you end up in the Bay.
Then there is your plan for the meet itself. How many races are you swimming, how many days? Do you have it written down on your training/racing calendar? Don’t have one of those; better go get one now.
What about the last couple of tune up races before the really big ones? Do you have a plan for those? Are you going to wear a tech suit; if not why not; if yes, then why? Are you going to make finals?
The list seems endless but it really comes down to having a plan of action and then following that plan. If after the meet things didn’t go as intended, then reexamine the plan. But have a plan and then follow it.
You can then make a race plan for each event. How fast are you going out; what’s the breathing pattern, how many dolphin kicks? Do you know your stroke count; they may differ up or down per lap depending upon your skill level.
Do you have your warmup in place, as in exactly how much you are doing before you race, and how much before, if at all, will you get into the pool? What about your loosening up after the race; how much?
Then remember that nutrition along with hydration is huge.
Clothing can be a factor as well…got something warm for finals? Do you have your compression socks, pants, sunscreen and a hat – of course, unless you are indoors?
The list goes on but if you factor all the training time, weight room effort and the expense of travel, you want to give yourself the best chance for success. You probably wouldn’t get in the car and head out for a week’s vacation not knowing where you were going and therefore what to bring with you.
Same with the meet; knowing your races inside and out makes a huge difference. Someone said “failing to plan is the same thing as having a plan to fail.” Hmmmmm…