Who Inspires You?

Go Swim is one year old this month. We’ve come so far in this year – our first videos and swim camps have been well received, we’ve made friends in foreign countries, and last month we had a record number of hits on our website. It feels GREAT to know that swimmers from all over the globe have found us and have enjoyed what we have to offer. Some of you have even told us that we inspire you. That’s the high side of what we do. The low side, if you can call it that, is that we want to offer so much more. It’s sometimes frustrating to have so many projects ready to go forward, and not even time to get them all done NOW.

I’ve started to realize that with everything going on, I’m easily inspired to do something GREAT. I can’t WAIT to get everything that we have planned rolling, and I can’t wait until we can share our enthusiasm with more people and swimmers.

Because of this, I feel more emotional sometimes, and it’s made me really admire the inspiration people give me. I admire greatness in ANY sport, profession, or task. I admire people who are absolutely the best at what they do, and who have such a LOVE of what they do that they can’t help but inspire others. I’m inspired by such people, and aspire to be like them. To be the best, I’ve always felt, you have to surround yourself with the best — people who will challenge you, motivate you, push you, prod you, and question you.

I’ve looked back on my life to determine who has really inspired me and has had the greatest influence on my life. My brother Kyle is first and foremost on the list. He is and always will be my greatest hero. His greatness was in how he lived his life. His courage in facing the ultimate test, and his protection of me as a young boy, stays with me some 27 years later. He taught me to stop feeling sorry for myself while I trained, and taught me that no matter what happened, I’ll always be my Mom and Dad’s son, and his brother. In other words, never get a big head, or think you’re better than anyone else.

Of course, right up there on the list is my Dad. What a special guy he was, and I aspire to be looked at by MY kids the way I look at my Dad. It helps me to laugh with them, and reassure them that no matter what they accomplish in life, I will always love them. The goal of always making my Mom and Dad proud of me is still with me, even past 40 years old. I guess Kyle taught me well.

And then there’s my Mom. Twenty plus years singing in the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus. Carnegie Hall? Yep… she’s sung there. Nominated for Grammys? Yep… she’s done that. Sure, it’s part of a group, but WOW… the REAL talent in the family is shown each time she opens her mouth (to sing that is… not to yell at me). Her dedication to perfection was certainly a driving force in all of our lives, but doing it with love was her special talent. She inspires me to always try a little harder.

My daughter inspires me every day, and makes me so proud. Mostly, it’s her total independence and lack of concern of how others see her. Her self confidence, and wonderful soul, help me to STOP worrying so much about how others think of me. She is simply wonderful.

My son inspires me with his approach to life and sport. He has a KILLER instinct and a NEVER-QUIT attitude when he’s playing, yet how quickly he reverts to simply having fun when the game is over. He lives in the moment, and enjoys himself. I love watching him and just being around him.

And did I mention that both my kids are on the honor role? And are growing up so quickly? I’m so proud of them. And they inspire me to continue to make them proud of ME.

My wife’s dedication, devotion, and work ethic inspire me. I’ve always admired the fact that she says EXACTLY what’s on her mind, never fearing the consequences of what she says. Let me put it this way: You NEVER have to wonder where you stand with her, and I wish I could be like that.

I admire my great friend Dave Denniston for his attitude. He keeps me living the life of an elite athlete, even if it’s just through him — hearing about his practices, his pain, his total commitment to his goal, and his willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed. He keeps me motivated to build something we can work with together for a long time to come.

Also high on the list is my wonderful partner, Barbara Hummel, and her husband, Kermit. In Barbara, a more honest and committed person you’ll NEVER meet. Her professionalism and commitment to making our videos sound and look topnotch inspires me to put in the extra hours and the extra effort. Even if we can’t ever talk about politics, we’d do ANYTHING for each other, and we both know it. Kermit is my hero because he’s done what I’ve always wanted to do… he’s raced cars! More important, he’s good at it. I love sharing stories with him about our cars, and he inspires me to get into karting shape for next year’s 24-hour endurance race that we’re hoping to do together.

Sure, this may sound a little deep and self-serving, but the real moral is… I can list the people who really inspire me. I can recall moments with them, things that were said, and how each one of them has worked together to help shape who I am, and what I’ll become. And what Go Swim will become.

I have tried to surround myself with people who are great at something. Even if it’s simply just being themselves. Each person I’ve listed has self-confidence, a special quality that makes them able to stand alone, without the need from outside influences. But I bet that each one of them has his or her OWN role models.

How does each of these people make up their list of influences? Who inspires them to be better? Are their lives filled with dedication and emotion, or are they just going through the steps until their time is finished? Do I see them as inspirational because I wish I was more like each of them, or do I see a special aspect in each one of them that I’d like to have.

Who is on your list? Have you ever really thought about why you do what you do? Or how you’ve become who you are? Have you thought about how you could do something better? Live your life differently? Do you wonder how to be the BEST? The absolute BEST? It’s the little things you do in life that add up to exactly who you are. If you can aspire to greatness in just ONE of those small things, it has the potential to change your life.

I’ve just scratched the surface of people who have inspired me. I would add my brother Kevin, my friends in Annapolis, Coach Black, Don Walsh, many friends around the world, and, of course, all the swimmers I teach, These people inspire me far more than they’ll ever know. But this exercise of listing the people who have helped me along my way, brings up the desire to continue to make them proud of me, and what I hope to accomplish.

As an athlete, developing this list, and looking at it often will help keep you inspired on those long, lonely training days when there’s nothing but the repeated lap after lap after lap. Thinking not of medals and ribbons and monetary prizes – but of true inspiration and the people you’ll share your success with — THAT’S what makes the laps go by faster, and the pain seem not so bad. Winning…and success always feel better when you have people to share it with. Find your inspiration in your world, and use it.