A Letter to Swim Coaches Everywhere: Thank You

Tampa Coaches

A Letter to Swim Coaches Everywhere: Thank You

From the Archive

Dear Coach,

I would like to begin this letter by asking you a question. A simple, one-word question: Why? Why did you pursue this career? Why do you wake up at the most ungodly hours every day, just to inevitably scream at your swimmers for breathing off the wall? Why do you devote countless hours of your life to the fate of our swimming careers? Why do you care?

Luckily for you, these are questions that I already know the answers to. You pursue this career because you love the sport of swimming. You wake up at the crack of dawn every day to scream at us because you truly care. You care, because swimming is your passion. You can’t get enough of it. And thank God you do, because who knows where we would be without you.

In honor of you, Coach, I’m going to list just a handful of reasons that effortlessly explain why you are so great. It wouldn’t be possible to fit all of them in one letter, but I think that speaks for itself. Here’s to you, Coach.

You Crave Our Success More Than We Do

And we want it badly. The training we endure every day proves that. But no matter how badly we want it for ourselves, you will always want it for us a little bit more.

When we fall, you fall with us. When we climb the most impossible mountains, you climb them with us. You remind us that the failures are lessons, and the victories, as glorious as they are, are simply just stepping stones.

This mindset isn’t limited to swimming, either. You want us to succeed in life. You care about how we grow as people, not just as athletes. You want to see us carry the values of swimming into the real world; hard work, leadership, determination, enthusiasm. You help us grow as people. Who would’ve thought that a sport, that is essentially a test of who is the most “aqua dynamic,” could build so much character? You make it all possible, Coach.

You Do the Work

You know, the work that nobody wants to do. You sit down, you write a workout that will add up to the exact amount of yardage necessary, lasting the exact amount of time allotted for practice. You make sure that every yard we swim will make us better; you have a purpose for everything that you make us do.

It’s an art, really.

And it’s all in our best interest. It’s such a time-consuming job; it practically engulfs your entire life. But it’s also a selfless job. Every time you contribute your expertise to a swim practice, a swim meet, a pre-meet pep talk, you are contributing your expertise to us. Even if we aren’t aware of it at the time. We could never thank you enough for that.

You Scream at Us

Now, this one is a bit tricky to see the positives in. I’m going to be honest: In the moment, when a swimmer is getting screamed at for something stupid that they did, they actually want to kill you. They want to put you in the boxing ring and go to town. Just being transparent, here.

But when we step back, remove negative emotions from the situation, and look at it from a neutral standpoint, it is clear as day; your screaming is the perfect portrayal of your passion.

If you didn’t scream at us, that’s when it would become a concern. But you do, and you don’t hesitate. You’re screaming because your passion for our success is just so overwhelming, that the only way to get your point across is to absolutely explode!

My 8-year-old self would just write you off as a big, fat meanie and avoid you at all costs from that point on. But my 20-year-old self would roll her eyes, push off the wall, and fix whatever you’re yelling at me to fix, with a feeling of immense gratefulness in my heart. Very deeply in my heart, in that moment, but I promise you it’s there.

You Are Always There For Us

Swimmers, if you are reading this, I must ask you a question. It’s dire, and it contributes to proving my point.

Picture this: You just did something incredibly stupid and incredibly illegal, and unfortunately, it has landed you in handcuffs in the back of a police car. I’m not sure what you did, but you messed up, man. Your head is spinning, you’re panicking, and you just know that you’re in trouble this time.

The police officer grabs you by the wrist, yanks you out of the car, and throws you into a jail cell. The cold concrete on the floor engulfs you, and all you can think is, “Oh crap.”

“You get one phone call,” the officer barks.

Who do you call?

Well, it’s certainly not your parents. They will literally kill you. We can’t deal with that right now. It’s not your siblings or cousins either, because they would probably just laugh at you. Although it might be funny to share this moment with them, you need help, not humor.

I can promise you that 9 times out of 10, if a swimmer were in this situation, they would almost always call their swim coach. And their swim coach would be there for them. They would bail you out, smack you senseless, and get you home safe. They would be overflowing with fury, of course, but if you needed them at any hour of the day, I promise, they would always be there.

Because of this, we feel as if we can tell you anything, Coach. Even if it isn’t as extreme as getting arrested, it’s a really nice feeling to know that if I’m struggling mentally, I can always come to you for help. Without judgement, without predispositions, you are simply just there for us.

You are so much more than a “coach” to us. Who knew that when I signed up for this sport at 8 years old, that I would be signing up for a best friend, parental figure, and swim coach all-in-one?

To the swimming community, I think I speak for all of us collectively when I say that the amount of reasons that we are thankful for you could never fit into a singular letter. So instead, I say this: Thank you.


Swimmers Everywhere

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2 years ago

And you allowed a biological man to compete and ridiculously demolish records in WOMEN’S events.

2 years ago
Reply to  JOE

My same question, why allow it? Why not push back, question the fairness of it. Why not protect the integrity of your sport? Keeping quiet is tacit agreement to it.

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