A note from Badger Parent Advocate, Mike Conaton:
I recently attended a college meet and had the pleasure of spending time with a senior swimmer. He barely missed qualifying cuts and therefore was not swimming in the meet, but he felt like he just had to go to the event to be with his teammates for one last time. He was not even entitled to a deck pass and had to travel and attend the meet on his own dime. But he stayed busy, filming each race on his iPad and taking splits from the stands for the coaches. He hung out with the parents and gave us all terrific insight into his teammates’ swims for each day’s events.
He made some lasting impressions and provoked these thoughts.
First of all we should all be so lucky to have a son as smart and impressive, friendly and caring as he was. He shared with me his feelings of disappointment that he couldn’t be helping his teammates by participating in the meet. I found myself disagreeing vehemently and pointing out to him the obvious contribution he was making by filming each and every race that would then be used as a coaching tool for all his teammates’ improvement. He was filling a very important role and in fact supporting his teammates in a big way at the meet.
But I also pointed out to him his collective body of work over his entire career. He couldn’t just focus on one meet. If you count the three classes ahead of him when he was a freshman, the three classes now behind him, and his own senior class, he’s had interaction with seven different classes. He has supported, encouraged and influenced 40-50 teammates over his four years. He absolutely pulled his weight over his career and contributed to the experiences of his teammates in a very tangible and positive way. He therefore should feel very much a part of his team’s success overall, I argued, and certainly a contributor to his teammates accomplishments even at this meet.
I feel strongly about this concept of sharing support and even sacrifice, and therefore then sharing in the related accomplishments. And this reminds me of examples closer to home.
I’ve written in the past about the sacrifice we make as parents for our swimmers. We do it because we love our kids and want the best for them. It’s what parents do. But the unsung heroes of the swimming household are the siblings. I know my kids have sacrificed for one another’s activities. Parents split time between driving and taking turns attending various events, often missing sibling’s events and activities at the same time. Sibling’s plans are often changed to accommodate practices and meets. Dinners are served late. Households are awoken when swimmers leave for morning workout. Young siblings who can’t be left alone at home are dragged to events. (You better believe brothers reciprocated and went to recitals to support their sister at our house!) Even family vacations have been shortened and canceled. And so I believe strongly that an entire family can and should therefore celebrate each other’s accomplishments. Siblings often contribute in a very meaningful way to enable the dedication it takes to achieve success in this sport.
So here’s to the teammates who all have their different and important roles to fill, and here’s to the siblings who sacrifice for each other and greatly contribute to each other’s efforts and success. May they all share and enjoy each other’s accomplishments!