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Swimmers past

November 30, 2011

A few items of business this morning first:

  • How is your 30 days of juice going? Stay tuned for Friday…. we will have our update and some of our recipes. I am also updating our progress over on Twitter, hit that button over there to the left to join in on the fun!
  • Thursday December 1st is our first indoor trainer night at Berts! Please click here for more information, I hope to see you there! (FREE)

The name popped up on the right side bar of Face Book and all at once…. my heart stopped, jumped, paused, and hurt. I was so happy that I buried my face in my hands and I began to cry. It only took one name, to open the flood gates of more names and more reconnection and a whole host of memories from my days as a swim coach in Buffalo.

Face Book is an interesting dichotomy to me. I feel that many of us are the last breed of a generation that goes our separate ways. The kids who graduate from high school may not physically see each other for twenty years, but they are still connected.

It’s connected me to so many people I have parted ways with. For one reason or another. Each time that connection is made, each time that friend request comes through and it’s a name I have thought so much of but haven’t in so long at the same time….. it gets me.

I loved the kids I coached on that swim team. I absolutely loved them. They were my world at the time.

I was newly recovering from my eating disorder and suddenly I was in a role of being the leader, the good example, the coach.

I remember the gifts they gave me that first Christmas….. I actually still have all of them. every single one. In fact as I look over the screen of my computer… there they are. A painted tile that was framed from Alex. A picture from Tyler, a drawing from Kurt.  A birthday card from Donny that reads…. thank you for always believing in me. There is one from Cailtin, Lucy, Elizabeth…… these kids have no clue how important they were in my recovery. In fact I don’t think they ever knew I was sick at all.

I was close with these kids and I was close with their families. I babysat most of them. The culture was incredible….. one of the highlights of my entire life was the time I spent with them.

That swim team healed me from an eating disorder I never thought I would live through.

Often times athletes think they need to thank their coaches, and sure, they might…. there is nothing wrong with that. It’s been my experience however….. in 100% of the coaching relationships I have had, from age group swimmer to elite triathlete….. 100% of the time I need to thank them. They are the ones who teach me. I share what I know, and they teach me. Every single time.

Those kids taught me to view the world outside of myself. They taught me how to see something that no one else could. That each of us has potential, that each of us has a dream of some kind….. and that each of us no matter what our age has the ability to go after that dream with 100% of everything we are. forget age, weight, height. Forget what happened 5 years ago and who cares about what will happen 5 years from now.

They all had a clean slate and taught me that I could have one too. My past and my illness never defined me, and as much as I tried try to allow it to…… it will never.

They taught me to try again if I fail. They taught me to laugh again. They taught me that together we can achieve and together we can achieve and they taught me that everyone swims faster when they are being screamed at. They taught me that a missed wall can be made up for….. we are going to miss walls in life. Pity the person who never misses. Pity the person who hits it every time. The first time they don’t they won’t know what to do.

They taught me that it’s okay to cry in my goggles and at the same time to pump my fist in the air when we nail that wall.

Their victories became my victories. Their disappointments became mine, yet they taught me what it meant to rise above.

When they walked out onto that deck for meets my heart would swell with pride. I knew the work they put in. I knew the practices (I wrote them!). I knew what they overcame whether it was an injury or a thought in their mind. I knew. And they knew that I knew that they knew that I knew.

Exactly. Just like that.

Through the past 15 years I have thought about them. I thought about them during my first Ironman. I thought about them during my sixth Ironman. I look at their cards every single day. As they are floating back into my life through Face Book through my tears of happiness are eyes of pride. I have wondered what they are doing, where they are now….. where did life take them?

It’s taken them some amazing places.

I am grateful for things like Face Book, I am so grateful for the ability to be apart from some people and experience the thrill of finding one another again. It’s a blessing beyond description.

What I never got to do….. and what I have always wanted to do….. was thank them. I want to thank them for what they did for me. They took a girl who was struggling. Against herself. They brought her out of that absolute madness. They taught me to see the world around me. They taught me to see the forest beyond the trees, and they are the ones who helped me heal.

And they never even knew it.

Through the holidays as I make a pass through home I am hoping to reconnect. To give all of them a hug. To introduce them to my husband and especially to my son, who is about the age that they were….. when I coached them. I wonder if they ever knew, or could even comprehend the impact they all had on my life and where it’s gone.

Technically I was the coach. Truthfully, they coached me.

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