The First Time

Apr 1, 2014
The First Time

We live in a world of athletics, doing our best to surround ourselves with people who have the desire to be the best at what they do.

That “be the best” thing continues to get tougher and tougher as the world expands, but the goal is always still there.  We are fortunate to know so many people who have actually made it to that top rung on the ladder in the sport of swimming.  Because of our friends, as well as people we work and associate with, we get caught up in THAT being what we focus on so consistently every day.

Having a new person brings us back to the reality of the world, and fills us with a new perspective about life.

This morning as I heard Maddy waking up, I went to her as one does every morning.  I was greeted with a smile.  At that exact moment, I realized that she really, indeed, has awakened with a smile every day of her life.  The goal of making that happen for as long as possible came into my mind.

When I took Maddy to the changing table, and started our morning conversation, I heard myself ask her, “What are you going to do for the first time today?”  Again it hit me… what am I going to do for the first time today?  When did it end for me?  When did I stop trying to do something new for the first time?  I honestly can’t remember.

As we get older, we get caught up in the day-to-day responsibility of our careers, our kids, our friends, and of course THE BILLS.  I wonder if it just wears us down to the point that doing the same thing every day is what keeps us sane.  Whatever that thing is, whether it’s working out, going to a job, or even sitting at the computer editing video, is there too much on our plate to ask ourselves to find something that we can do for the first time today?

My mind immediately scrolls through SPORTS as the easiest way to find something to try for the first time.  But wait a minute.    I’m not really sure I can do anything athletic for the first time anymore.   Should it be something related to Go Swim…like spending the longest time possible sitting at the computer?  Nope… only so many hours in a day.  Could it be to ride my motorcycle across the country?  YES… but that’s not a responsible thing to try to do for the first time without a lot of planning (although that’s still on the list).

I’m going to have to look for low-hanging fruit to get this started, to try to see the world through Maddy’s eyes.  This afternoon I go to the pool to coach, like I do every day.  While my daily routine can’t be altered that much, what are the little things, as a coach, that I can attempt to do for the first time?  I’ll have to look for someone I don’t typically talk to, or watch a swimmer I might otherwise overlook.  I’ll have to see what I can do to help them, rather than focus on what I can do to pad my own resumé of accomplishments.  Life changes as you get older, and things you do for the first time don’t necessarily have to be about you anymore, but rather they can (should) be about doing things for others for the first time.

As a coach, my job is to get other people to do something for the first time.  When I do that, I help myself do something new for the first time as well.  What I have to do is to make sure I help as many of the swimmers I come in contact with as possible.  That’s where I’m going to start, because I really am at a loss for things that I could do for the first time.  While I’m incredibly excited to watch Maddy, and Sammy, and Kyle do and experience things for the first time, we can’t forget to think about what WE can do for the first time as we get older.  Keeping the excitement and discovery alive in ourselves can only be contagious with the people we come in contact with, those on whom we want to make a positive impact.  I think it’s incredibly important for those of us who coach younger swimmers, to keep that understanding of “the first time” in mind.

It’s so easy to lose sight of what it means to experience something for the first time.  The joy, and the fear.  Maybe if we regain that understanding, we’ll ultimately be better coaches.

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