I competed in my first backstroke race the summer of 1979 at the age of 4. My mom taught me to swim almost before I could walk, and USS Swimming played a huge role in the first 21 years of my life. In addition to allowing me to compete as an athlete at the national level in high school, it also helped me to matriculate at Dartmouth College in the fall of 1993. I wasn’t as smart as the general Ivy League student population, but I knew how to work and I was never known to back down from a challenge.
Although I drifted away from the sport during my twenties as I built a life on the farm and gave birth to my three greatest blessings, I became reunited with it the year my youngest turned 3. At that point, swimming provided a healing influence, and played a vital role as I regained my health after a difficult struggle with Graves Disease. The combination of physical fitness challenge as a swimmer and the mental fitness that I acquired as a coach enabled me to find the “old Anne” and shake off the deflated self esteem that often develops when battling a chronic illness.
Years later, our local swim team thrives with 46 young competitors aged 7-16. Coaching is the highlight of my summer and I love to watch the sport play a positive role in the growth of our community’s young people. It is not just speed and strength that gets developed in the water — it is character, work ethic, and respect. The almost twenty hours a week that I put in as a volunteer coach during the summer months nurtures my altruistic side despite the fact that during hard workouts my athletes have been known to classify me as evil…
What they likely don’t realize is that I push them because I care about them: both the young people that they are today and the awesome adults that they will grow up to be tomorrow. I hope that sometime ten years down the road each of my swimmers will rattle off one of the many motivational phrases that I am known for and take a moment to appreciate what we built together.
Our league also allows for adults to swim, so each week I get to hit the water to prove to myself that I still can. I love that I demonstrate with each day that passes that swimming is a life sport and fitness is fun.
- Every practice is a challenge to be met.
- Every race is an opportunity to embrace.
- Every awesome effort proves that while the road to excellence is rarely comfortable, success thrives in an uncomfortable environment.