The Haymaker Swim Team took 46 athletes in 170 individual events and 23 relays to the Plains Tsunami North Qualifying meet last Saturday. All 46 of those athletes earned the opportunity to compete next weekend at the Championship Meet.
The kids would likely report that the fun of competition and the excitement of getting to the next level provided the highlight of their day. Mine was the fact that although I only get to coach and mentor these kids for 8 weeks each summer, our team completed the meet with no disqualifications and a large number of excellent athletic performances.
Each swim season we create a mantra which appears on the back of our team shirts. This year our shirts carry the statement Perfect Practice Makes Perfect Performance. As the coach of a recreation league summer sport, I try to focus on fitness and the development of strength and work ethic. I know that learning to do it right at practice sets the kids up not just for success in the pool but also in life.
While the glory of competitive victory glows brightly, a true winner shines just as radiantly during the hours of practice. It is during those hours of preparation that true character is revealed. Convincing my swimmers of the necessity of passionate effort creates one of my greatest challenges. Settling clearly provides the enemy of greatness, and is spurred by unfocused practice. Each year I create Pitchfork Challenges to help the kids find focused goals to strive for during practice sessions.
For the 2016 season, Pitchfork Challenges included long Individual Medley swims requiring correct stroke technique, sprint freestyle swims with no breathing, and a blend of core “on land” strength challenges. I always enjoy watching the kids accomplish far more than they envisioned possible, and I know that these challenges play an important role in creating a successful season.
This week provides the culmination of the 2016 season. The kids look forward to competing at Championships with a blend of nerves and excitement, and dreams of coming home with medals. I spend the week trying to prepare them knowing that perfect practice makes perfect performance.