A Letter To the Coach Who Left Me


A Letter To the Coach Who Left Me

Throughout our careers, we will have relationships with a few different coaches. If we are lucky, we will get to know and be close to a few. Those relationships will be some of the most important and influential ones of your career and life. They mean a lot to you – personally and professionally. They are your mentors in swimming and in life. They help you navigate a plethora of situations in and out of the pool. You would do (almost) anything they tell you to do.

However, what happens when that coach leaves? There is the initial reaction and shock – and how to react to that news, but then the shock and anger wear off and time presses on. You both go separate ways and the person who was once your mentor is no longer there. They are no longer around to guide you through the challenging tasks of swimming and life. Time and space away from each other have made interactions awkward and maybe even uncomfortable when you do see each other – something that you never thought was possible given how close you were originally. You don’t recognize them, and you are sure that they do not recognize you either.

This is the same person who once knew you better than you knew yourself. The person who taught you how to handle yourself on the deck and how to carry yourself through life. Now you have no idea how to even interact with them.

Personally, I had one coach who I was very close with. I worked with him for years and we went through the ringer together. We argued, drove each other crazy and did not see eye to eye all the time, but I respected who he was as a coach and as a person. We had a great relationship, and he was one of the best coaches I have ever had the good fortune of working with. He could even talk me into competing in the mile when I would have rather done any other event.

Then one day, suddenly, he was no longer a part of my life. He had gotten his dream job and needed to pursue it. I was happy and mad at him all in the same instance. We both knew at that point in time that this was it – and we would have to take our careers in different directions, independently of each other. Selfishly, I was upset with him and did not want him to leave. I wished he was never given the opportunity for that job – which was wrong. He worked hard, was an amazing coach and deserved it. I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it as I was so upset. He seemed to feel similarly as I did, however it was a mix of emotions that were never discussed.

The result of these mixed emotions? We do not speak anymore and haven’t in a few years. Granted, the state of our speaking terms are not malicious or vengeful in any way but are a result of what time and space have naturally allowed. In a way, that is the worst part, that someone once so close to me is so naturally not involved anymore. It would be easier if it were for petty reasons. It would give us a reason not to want to be involved as opposed to none at all. I look back on that relationship with the fondest of memories and I hope they do as well.

With that being said, this is an open letter to the coach who left me. Know that I still admire and respect you. I thank you for every single time you pushed me to be my best, when you knew better, and I was too stubborn to admit it. I hope that you know how much of an impact you had on my life even all these years later, and I am sorry if I didn’t make that clear enough while you were my coach and actively in my life. I am sorry for any time I wasted being stubborn and not listening because you were always right, even if I did not want to admit it. You were the one to teach me how to be an athlete and the significance of what that meant – that not everyone could be the athlete that I could be. Thank you for teaching me the meaning of true sacrifice and how to handle setbacks and victories. Thank you teaching me perseverance and patience, patience still being the one in progress. Thank you for trying to comfort me when I was upset – even though you were uncomfortable. Most of all, thank you for believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself and for caring enough to be hard on me.

I wish our fates had aligned better and things had gone differently, but I am beyond grateful for every second and drop of energy you gave to me. I am proud and grateful to have called you my coach and my mentor. I wish you all the best and hope that one day we will meet again. If we don’t, then please take this letter as a small piece of appreciation that you deserve. Thank you coach, for everything you did for me and the lasting impact you had on my life.

With much admiration and respect,

Your swimmer

Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

What a beautiful letter. I won my first trophy at 5 and swimming is still a big part of my life 50 years later. I had 3 coaches that were fantastic. But not just the coaching, the teammates, officials, volunteers. All of it. Swimmers and pretty much everyone involved in Diving and swimming are just down right top shelf. I stopped coaching and am an official now and I love it just as much as teaching lessons too. My closest friends are swimmers and one really fast left wing from soccer but she would tan sometimes, not that we sat around that much ch back in the “day”. Thanks for keeping the bar high and representing our sport in a positive manner.

2 years ago

There are few jobs in the world where you put in so much heart and soul for literally pennies on the hour. I remember growing up having coaches that would pick up swimmers for morning practices (talking before 5 AM), spend time after practice making sure you mastered that flip turn or dive, or otherwise just be willing to hang out and spend time beyond practice being friends and mentors. Even my head coach had to hold down a second job to make ends meet.

C. Andrews
C. Andrews
1 year ago

It’s always a tough situation for a young swimmer who is on the way up when a coach moves on . I know it took a long time to get over it especially 2 weeks before the High School State Championship. That definitely had a negative effect on his performance. Well, kids just have to be able to adjust now because it’s probably going to happen more than once especially if they swim in college. It happens all the time at that level.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x