There’s only so much that can be said about spending 3 days with 1,000 swim coaches. To me, it always seems like going home. There are so many friends that I’ve made over the years, and to have so many of them in one place at the same time…well, three days just isn’t enough.
I reconnected with coaches who used to swim FOR me. When I was a young coach, I struggled with the right things to say to these guys (and girls). I tried to give them what I thought they needed…WAY prior to me understanding what I needed to teach them. Seeing them face to face is always sobering for me, not because I’m not thrilled to see old friends, but because I feel bad for what I didn’t do for them as athletes.
From the talking and the smiles, it seems they’ve forgiven me for simply beating them up with yardage, and for rarely talking to them about HOW to accomplish the task. That these guys are coaches now could mean only one of two things. First, that having me as a coach proved to them that ANYONE could call himself a coach. Second, that I had played a part in making them enjoy the sport. I’m not taking credit for any of their successes. I’m simply taking credit for not driving them OUT of the sport.
The thing is, at ASCA I also saw many of the people who were MY coaches and who inspired me to not only perform in the sport while I was a swimmer, but also to stay in the sport after it was over for me as a swimmer. To me, this sport is all about the people, and I thank everyone who came up to say hello, shake our hands, and, of course, purchase our products. As much of a plug as that sounds, ultimately, our ability to stay involved in this sport comes down to how many DVDs we sell, so those people who purchased helped us continue our little dream of having fun teaching.
One person in particular stood out last week. Without this guy, we’re just another booth in a trade show.
While he’s probably one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met, Dave Denniston hasn’t missed a step (yes DD, that’s a set up). While it would be easy for someone in his situation to feel sorry for himself, Dave has taken an active role in not only continuing, but also pushing forward his future. He’s started a speaker’s tour with the powerful message of "Mind over Body." I can only hope that those coaches who saw Dave present with me and who got to witness his humor when talking about stroke technique, will want to bring Dave to their pool to talk about his life. If you think he’s funny (and enlightening) talking about insweeps and outsweeps, wait ’til you hear him talk about LIFE!
The night before our presentations, Dave, Barbara, Judd, and I shared a couple of pizzas in Dave’s room to prepare. It was at that moment that I realized just how much trouble I was going to be in the next day. I had TEARS streaming down my face, as did Barbara and Judd. Of course, this was a very special time for us and I’m not sure if any of that practice session would make it into the actual presentation, but what did come out during the actual events, was Dave’s ability to make any situation a positive one.
For me, standing in front of 300 to 400 coaches to talk about swimming, is a pretty rough task. Having Dave up there with me made it all so much easier. His strength in everything is contagious, and he helped me to realize that no matter what the room of coaches thought about me, we were there to just do our best, and, hopefully, have some fun.
I’m so incredibly proud to be associated with Dave. Of course, I felt this way long before his accident. It’s just so much more evident now, what a true inspiration and man he is. Thanks, Dave, for making it all so much fun… just no thong jokes on the site please. 🙂