8 Things I Learned From My Swimmers 8 And Under
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8 Things I Learned From My Swimmers 8 And Under

Yes, you CAN actually arm-fart in the pool.

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8 Things I Learned From My Swimmers 8 And Under
Jenna Messing

I spend the majority of my summers basically living in the clubhouse of a local swimming pool acting as a junior coach for a swim team I have been a part of since 2007. I had a particular knack of working with the younger kids and found myself tapping into my inner first-grader and just having a blast with these little swimming balls of energy and exuberance.

I found that not only did they learn from me, but that I learned a few things from them, too.

1. Don't take life too seriously.

Especially at eight in the morning, when these little humans become the most stubborn people on Earth and refuse to get in the water. It can be extremely frustrating, but even after all the difficulty of getting them to do what you're asking them to do, they will still love you and continue to bring smiles and jokes into your world.

2. When at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again.

This is an important one. I know, especially with age, competitiveness and the strive for perfection infinitely rise. I remember as a swimmer I would become competitive in the pool and was easily upset when I would gain time or lose a close and heated race. These kids, while upset after not performing their best, always show up to practice the next day ready to work hard and don't let one bad race affect their season.

3. Set high goals for yourself.

"I want to go to the Olympics," "I want to swim at Berkeley," "I want to get an all-star time," the list of dreams goes on and on. My 8 and unders had ginormous hopes and dreams. They would talk about them all the time, write their goal times on their hands, and race to ask their timer their overall time for each and every race. They believed they could do anything, and honestly, this group of kids has the potential to achieve any of these goals. They will not settle for satisfaction or subpar, they work for the highest aspirations they can think of or dream of.

4. Never settle. Ever.

Similar to setting high goals for yourself, these kids were always pushing towards bigger and better things. Once they hit their goal, they immediately set an even bigger one to aspire towards. They just hit their all-star time? Great, now they want to make the all-star meet. Qualified for zones? Now it's about placing in the top three at the meet.

5. Treat others with kindness.

Sportsmanship is something I emphasize highly with my kids, especially as a coach and a role model. After a race, my kids turn to the lanes next to their own and shake the hands of the other swimmers, congratulating them on a great race. Sometimes, even when the other kids do not initially go to shake their hand, some of my kids will leave their hand out on the other kid's lane just to let them know they are there and ready to acknowledge their great race and hard work.

My kids are also very polite, saying thank you to the adults, the other coaches who work alongside myself, and all who volunteer to run their summer league and spend countless hours working to make their summer the best it can be.

6. Cherish your friendships.

As a 19-year-old student, I have had my fair share of indescribable friendships. My swimmers have some of the strongest bonds I have ever seen. Their chemistry, inside and outside of the pool, is something incredibly unique and special to that particular group of children.

When racing as a team in a relay, they're unbeatable. Inside the pool, they're goofballs, yet they still push each other to achieve their goals. They constantly have playdates, with dozens of inside jokes and new memories forming every minute they spend together. They have made me truly appreciate the value and the importance of strong friendships.

7. Seize every opportunity you are given.

When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. While some lemons are sweeter and bigger than others, all lemons have the capacity and potential to make lemonade. Whether it's swimming an event that is normally not their strength, making a particular meet, or even volunteering at the copious number of social events and competitions we have over the summer, these kids jump on every opportunity that is presented to them. If they are allowed and able, they do it.

8. Love.

This past summer was my last summer as a swimmer. My season was littered with senior appreciation and recognition, whether it was relays, a senior kick board, a cheer, or even a slideshow. I will never forget my final race, where I looked up from my lane to see a crowd of my swimmers, my family, and my friends crowded across half the pool to cheer me on (I was so blown away that I started crying in the pool).

Never will I forget the 7-year-old that ran up to me bawling after my halftime 8 and Under kick board event. Never will I forget the thank yous from the kids, never will I forget the glory that came with winning and the motivation and hunger that came from a loss. I love these kids with all my heart. They are some of the brightest, kindest, and most genuine people I have ever met.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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