There are a few things I will ask you to do at Swimcrest. Or rather, a few things I will ask you not to do. No running and no peeing in my pool is a given, of course.
The most important rule, however, might surprise some of my swimmers. Rule #1? No Saying You’re Sorry.
I hear it from almost every swim client I teach, regardless of age or ability.
“I’m sorry,” says the 11-year-old boy who doesn’t finish his first 25-yard swim ever. (But, by the way, still swam his farthest distance ever in making it 3/4 of the way, and who next time, made it the entire 25-yards, and then some.)
“I’m sorry,” says the adult swimmer in his 40s who can’t get that one diving toy at the bottom of the 6 foot part of the pool and who only recently learned to put his head underwater without hanging on to the side of the pool. (And yes, gets it on his 5th try.)
“I’m sorry,” says the 10-year-old girl who doesn’t complete the last of her 6 50s stroke on the 1:15 interval she’s trying for the first time. (And who three months before, couldn’t go underwater without holding her nose with her hand.)
“I’m sorry,” says the adult who has taken some time between lessons and is apologizing for forgetting some of the things he’d learned before. (And who goes on to to learn flip turns that very lesson.)
To me, swimming means never having to apologize. And I tell every student this each time it happens.
Your time at Swimcrest, or swimming in general, is about YOU, not about me. It’s about trying things, sometimes not meeting your own expectations but trying again and eventually succeeding. It’s about feeling good in the water, learning your body’s relationship to the water, and discovering how you move in the water.
It’s not about meeting my expectations.
That’s the main reason that we spend so much time talking about what your goals are and what your dreams are about what you want to do in the water. I have my own, but they’re just mine. I want to be more efficient, to increase my distance per stroke, to swim faster, and fix that pesky left hand problem I revert to all too often.
But those are my goals and expectations for me, and just for me. And frankly, I’m hard enough on myself when I don’t meet them. I don’t need to feel like I’m disappointing someone else too. And neither do you.
I often joke that I HAVE to swim for the love if it because I can’t bank on those huge endorsement deals or an Olympic medal coming my way anytime soon. I swim for what it has brought to my life both mentally and physically. To share that with others is something I am so happy to be able to do, wherever that swimmer might be in their swimming evolution.
When my students try, I get excited. I love the water, and to share that love with them is wonderful for me.
I watch students at all different stages of their swimming journey. I’ve had students pump their fists and yell “Yes!” when they finally meet an elusive goal. I’ve had students cry when they don’t. I’ve had students work on something over and over and over again, testing themselves mentally as much as physically and sometimes feeling incredibly frustrated until it finally happens. I’ve had students feel shocked when something came easier than they anticipated and where their mental obstacles were much bigger than the physical.
All of that is part of the process. Sometimes, learning is wonderful and sometimes it’s terribly frustrating. You will feel both when learning to swim or trying to take your swimming to the next level, and both sides of the equation are important.
Apologizing to me? That’s just extra pressure on you that no one needs.
Remember that your swimming is about you. Am I here to act as a resource and to guide you? Absolutely. Can I help you correct things to improve your efficiency? Totally. Will you improve your swimming? Yes.
But will you be judged? No. Will you be expected to perform to a set of predetermined goals? Never. But can I help you set your goals? Of course. And I will also remind you of where you’ve come from as we meet, exceed, and reset those goals.
Will you have fun? Yes. We both will. Because that’s what this should be about.
So please, don’t say you’re sorry. Unless, of course, you pee in my pool.