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July 07, 2008

Dara Torres, Carly Piper, Kids Swimming and Gold Medal Attitude Toward Your Worklife

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Last month our local swim club hosted a session with Gold Medalist from 2004 – Carly Piper. Her time and talk focused on what motivated her and she spoke mostly to 10 and under kids at Lakepark Swimclub.

Here are some reflections on winning and more since that time:

First note, kids swimming heroes start with anyone willing to teach them a lesson or make them feel special. And that’s the point. The joy for me can’t be measured in wins and losses, heats or main events. It’s watching the confidence, communication, swim and life lessons learned and applied with children. The truth is this doesn’t or shouldn’t change whether you are an athlete or not.

At the US Olympic Trials this past week Dara Torres won a place at age 41 on the team, winning her trial.
The announcer: To whom do attribute this amazing accomplishment?

Dara: I have a lot of good people around me.

She gets it. No one gets better alone. No one climbs to new career heights by themselves.

Getting into this swimming thing, now I might be staying up late, getting into the highlights of Phelps, Hansen, Jones, Coughlin and more on NBCOlympics.com.

I have learned a few lessons from kids, beginning competitors. I just hope they take this competition and innocence of achievement and share it with others no matter what their vocation.

Here are wise comments I have heard from six and under swimmers:

-I did good dad, didn’t I?
-My friend won the race. Can I give her another ribbon?
-I beat my best time.
-Did I win?
-Did I get any points for the team?

Let me answer the last question. Here is the bottom line. You swim in waters with these Marliins or Sharks or whatever you can still win. Or you can avoid being eaten alive. One of the ways you stay sharp, stay focused and more is that you need to have a worklife mission. That helps you compete in something worth winning.

In swimming the non-main events as kids matter. As adults we think that what your passionate about should not matter; what you do to make money should. That’s not true. But if you have not combined these into working for what you are passionate about as a vocation I think you might miss out.

You work hard in the non main event parts of life or even last heats that don’t seem to matter? What kids learn at this age is that it all matters. Fight and get to the wall. It’s gratifying when you share your joy with any kid as a parent or spectator and its especially fun to see the kids share their joy with others. It’s not just about non-permanent marker changes on a board. It’s not about the press clippings. It’ about your buddy, your friend and your progress in every heat. Keep it up. It’s everyone’s team. That’s what I learned and am learning by being a swimming parent.

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