One thing that I have always been incredibly grateful for is my job. The biggest reason for that is because I have found that most people my age hate their job. It is so common to hear someone complain about what happened at work, how late they had to stay out, how gross they felt when they were done, how unappreciated they are, and on and on. Now, I've had my share of jobs that I felt unappreciated at too, and perhaps because of them, I am able to appreciate my current job even more. The job I am speaking so highly of… is a swim coach.
I work 6 days a week, coaching a number of different athletes of all ages and abilities. On a day-to-day basis, through a couple of different programs, I work with children who are simply learning the basics of swimming, floating, and water safety, children who are beginning to develop the fundamentals of competitive swimming, and middle school students who are competing at a more serious level in preparation for high school.
Seeing such a spectrum of swimmers allows me the necessary knowledge and experience to help everyone the best that I can. Sometimes I find myself explaining something to an 8th grader that I learned from watching an 8-year-old, and vise-versa.
These athletes are consistently pushing me to be the best version of myself, both on and off the deck. At practice, I strive to be the best example for them as possible. When they're not around, they live in the back of my mind. I have given too many speeches on diets, work ethic, and laziness for me to ever slack off without feeling guilty.
Being able to not only spend so much time on pool decks but to also get paid for it, is something that I will never take for granted. Everything that is asked of me during any particular season of the sport is something that I genuinely do not mind doing. Organizing meet lineups, planning lessons, practices, and sets, contacting coaches and parents, learning about effective techniques and so many other aspects of the job is actually enjoyable and at times I find myself looking forward to putting in that work. It is not labor intensive, there is plenty of room for flexibility, I practically act as my own boss, and it can even be fun. Not everyone can say that about their jobs.
Above all, the athletes that I work with have found a way to reach me like I never thought possible. The bonds and relationships that I have with students have been like anything that I have ever been able to explain before. Knowing that I am helping to shape a future generation purely by my example and work ethic is both satisfying and acts as a powerful motivator. When I am on the pool deck, I realize that everything I do and say could have an impact on a swimmer, and further, the nature of a particular practice (which I designed) could affect their performance as well. That kind of position has given me the motivation to be the absolute version of myself at all times... both on and off the deck.
Even on the weekends, long after practice has ended, I still have my athletes in the back of my mind, especially my middle schoolers. I have given too many speeches on diets, work ethic, and laziness for me to ever slack off without feeling guilty. All of my swimmers remind me to be the best for myself, even when they are not around. When I'm making plans for dinner, when I am pushing myself at the gym, and when I consider putting off my homework for a cheap distraction, without fail, my coaching side comes out and reminds me of what I would tell they were making the same decisions.
My relationships with all of my athletes have also kept me humble, down to earth, and in touch with pop culture references that I may not have picked up on my own (and there are still a LOT that I don't understand... I'm getting old). Going into a field of college study where professors aren't able, nor try, to relate to their students really hits home and makes me grateful that I can have relevant conversations with swimmers.
Being able to understand another person's point of view is an indescribably powerful thing that not everyone is able to do. It is even harder to understand generations younger than you. So when I consider all of the real-life conversations and dilemmas that my athletes experience outside of swimming, I don't take that insight for granted. Rather, it is important to use what I know effectively and attempt to build an even stronger bond. In my time coaching, the best performances have come from the swimmers who feel the most comfortable and confident on the team and with the coaches.
Every practice offers a lesson. Every meet brings a new reward. Every athlete brings a new reason to keep going.
I look forward to every single day. My job is amazing and it changed my life. Even if I were to stop now, the time that I have put into the pool has already changed and molded my personality beyond alteration. If any of you reading ever have the opportunity to pass along knowledge of something that you already love... I highly recommend doing so.
Helping and teaching someone to share similar passions is like nothing else in the world. Don't tell my boss, but I would do it for free. I will always be grateful, and will never take what I have for granted. I love my job.