I'm the kind of person who skips to the conversation when reading a book.
With gas creeping up and up again, I knew we would have to make some changes. When I first suggested to Hannah that she may have to swim for a different team, the suggestion was met with some friction. The little chip doesn’t fall from this old block when it comes to resisting change.
But the chip doesn’t fall far from the block when it comes to a love for swimming either. Her love for swimming mirrors my own.
I went back to teaching lessons several years, sort of a form of self-discipline. I offered to teach at a pool in the same town where my parents live, 70 miles from my home. By having a job that I had to be there for, it assured that I would visit my parents at least once a week. And it has worked. Once a week, I drive an hour and 15 minutes, teach lessons, and visit my parents.
An off-shoot of that I hadn’t anticipated was Hannah’s growing love for swimming. She joined the swim team there (we were at the pool already), but then she excelled and wanted more. We have tried various solutions to this “problem.”
We tried spending the night at my parents’ house once a week so she could swim twice. Problem: I would get about two hours of sleep on those nights and felt horrible the next day.
We tried swimming a few times a week at the local pool to supplement her limited team time. Problem: The pool keeps such sporadic hours that this turned out not to solve any problem but just led to frustration.
Last night we tried a local team. I knew the coach and she was willing to let Hannah swim with her team to try it out.
Hannah was incredibly nervous as we drove down. I kept looking at her in the rear-view mirror. She wore her brave smile.
When we got to the pool, she was stiff, nervous, not at all herself, but she went into the locker room to change without complaint.
Once she was in the water, there was the Hannah I knew. She was comfortable, at ease. I smiled as I watched her swim with the other kids because I knew she was in her element.
Toward the end of practice I walked over to the coach. She asked me, “How do you think she did?”
“Hannah looked like she had fun,” I said. “There were a couple of times when she looked to me because I think you call some of the drills by a different name.”
“Yeah, swimming has its language,” the coach agreed, “and we all give it different words.” What a great way of putting it! That is so true.
“I really liked that she listened,” the coach went on. “Not many kids do that.”
I don’t think there is anything the coach could have said that would have made me happier. I know that what she said is true. As a fellow coach and swim instructor, I know that half the time when we’re on deck talking to the kids in the water, they aren’t listening to a word we’re saying.
This picture appeared in the ASCA Newsletter (ASCA stands for American Swimming Coaches Association) for 2013, Issue 1. I love it because it captures what coaches who work with young children deal with every day. The coach has seven kids in the water and he squatting on the deck to get down to their level to communicate with them. One kid is underwater. One kid is looking at the camera. One is playing with something in his hands. Three are looking either down the pool or at the other swimmers. Only one is looking at the coach as he talks. And undoubtedly listening.
Last night, that one was Hannah. And I couldn’t have been prouder.