This year's clinic once again highlighted how important it is to treat kids not just as swimmers, but as growing human beings. It is a comon comment by all coaches who worked with elite level athletes that their proudest accomplishments are on seeing how much those they work with grow as people over the process. Perhaps my favorite moment of the whole week came in an informal conversation with one of the greatest coaching legends out there - Jon Urbanchek
The conversation with Jon was another reminder on how much swimming, even for those that have been at the sport's pinnacle, is just swimming. In his words, he considers himself a lucky man for not ever "having to go to work", but "having a great hobby" instead. Quite a refreshing statement to hear from someone with his credentials. We kept going back and talking about people, rather than the sport, and the biggest lesson I took away was to take swimming issues lightly, and focus on the people instead.
Back at home, it's been great to see those who are already committed to their season goals (one of the best quotes from the clinic: 'peaking starts on the first day of practice'). So far, there's been several swimmers who are showing levels of commitment unlike ever before, and how could a coach not look forward to the next day of practice when that's going on? I'm feeling a great season is ahead of us, but most importantly, I'm ready to help the kids I'm working with grow personally through it. After all, when all is said and done, it's all about the people!