Last week, I attended my first swim meet in a long while. I saw my grand niece and nephew compete for my children’s alma mater—the Bridgeport Wildcatters. Within minutes of my arrival, I saw life come full circle: former teammates of my children have become the parents of the newest generation of Wildcatters.
As I watched kids and adults in the water and on the deck, it occurred to me that the world would be a better place if it conducted itself like a swim meet.
At swim meets, the big kids cheer on the little kids and the little kids grow up to become the big kids who cheer on the little kids. Competitors who finish first don’t jump out and pound their chests, but wait in the water and urge their teammates forward.
Wow. Think what the world would be like if we all pulled for one another, if we motivated each other to meet positive goals, never wishing failure upon anyone.
At swim meets, kids compete against themselves—to better their times. Wouldn’t it be great if we conducted life in the same manner—strive to better ourselves and not worry, envy, or resent the people in the neighboring lanes?
Speaking of lanes, at swim meets, competitors stay in their lanes. Well, they try. The little ones often backstroke into the ropes or pause, grab the lane line, and take a rest. But they don’t quit, and they don’t interfere with swimmers in the lanes next door. They right their ships and move forward.
Think what the world would be like if we stayed in our lanes, minded our own business, kept our eyes on the challenges before us.
At swim meets, win or lose, kids pull themselves out of the water to laugh and run and play with their teammates and opponents. Do they want to win? Absolutely. But kids are resilient. They resolve to improve their strokes by working harder in practice. They don’t allow setbacks to ruin their fun.
If only adults would permit themselves to enjoy the kid kind of bounce backs.
At swim meets, participants aren’t wrapped up in appearance. They focus on two things: performance and fun. They don matching uniforms, pull swim caps over their heads, and dive (or belly smack) off the blocks. On the deck, they laugh—a lot.
It’s the same for the parents and family members who cheer them on. They arrive dressed in shorts or jeans and flip-flops, hair tousled about. They all have that “just happy to have gotten the troops here without forgetting the swim googles” look about them.
Their focus is not on themselves, but on their children. Parents want their offspring to do well in the water. But they also relax in knowing that out of the water, they don’t have to worry. At swim meets, everyone keeps an eye out for all of the kids. That’s why the parents, like their children, laugh—a lot.
I know that feeling, and it’s a good one.
Every successful society must have top-notch and unselfish leaders. If only all inhabitants of this earth could be led by coaches like Ryan Knapp, Allie Walker, and Tom Plemons.
It’s easy to see that Knapp and Walker (a former Wildcatter) have benefitted from Plemons’ expertise. Plemons is natural leader who coached my kids. And guess what? He loves what he does enough to continue motivating and teaching young swimmers like my niece and nephew.
The world is in need of more encouraging teachers, leaders, and coaches like Knapp, Walker, and Plemons who impart their knowledge with patience, enthusiasm, and laughter.
The Wildcatters may not compete in the Olympic games, but they are swimming their way to becoming positive citizens who will make the world a better place.
writer, blogger, columnist