Friday, October 28, 2011

American Swim Coaches Association Eastern States Clinic

Next to flute playing, I love to swim.  When I started to swim competitively at age 12 (late by age-group swimming standards) the sport changed my life.  The summer of swimming resulted in a 20 pound weight loss, a huge increase in self confidence, and the understanding that if I worked hard enough I could make things happen. 28 years after the end of my competitive swimming career, I started again, at age 44.  I was hugely influenced by my children, elite swimmers.  A couple of zone meet and national masters meet top-10 finishes, I had to take some time off.  Like most swimmers, I learned to swim through pain, and in so doing injured my shoulders so that today I am swimming only 2 days a week, maybe 2500 yards each time.  Not much, but it sure is great for flute breathing. 

Now,  I give back to the sport I love by coaching adults in a group we call "Lapsters" (we have begun to be known as "Lobsters") at the Brandywine YMCA.

Today, I am here in Baltimore with my husband, who coaches 13 and 14 year olds at the same YMCA, attending a swimming coaching clinic.  Lee and I met at a swim practice.  I was 16.  Two years later we were coaching a summer swim team of up to 80 kids, for three hours a day.  Great way for a relationship to start.  We have nostalgic photos of our wedding with many of our swimmers in attendance.

At this clinic, I am taking copious notes. The principles of swimming coaching are the same as teaching music.  So is the work ethic, the respect of technique, the sense that hard work gets results.  Perhaps this is universal, regardless the genre. 

But I think what makes the US so dominant in the sport of swimming is the dedication of the age-group coaches, and the care they put into the myriad aspects of teaching technique.  I am not so sure  that music teaching is as concerned with the basics.  This is where it starts.....

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