The second time I was introduced this past weekend at the Gulf Swimming Coaches Clinic, I became painfully self-conscious about part of my bio.
I am proud that I was coached two Danish Junior National teams. Humbly, I realize that Denmark, as a country, is far smaller than Gulf Swimming. Not only in terms of population but in the number of competitive swimmers.
In fact, hearing the figures tossed around about the size of various clubs there, you could probably find room for the entire competitive population of Danish swimmers in between four and five Houston area swim clubs.
The Whole Swimmer
The theme of the weekend was the "Whole Swimmer", which I have to say is what got me excited about being there in the first place. When I speak to teams and coaches I hardly use the word "swimming". Can what I'm talking about help you swim faster? Of course.
But there are more valuable things that we can teach ourselves and the people we coach than swimming skill or fitness. We can help them to lead a better, more meaningful life. We can teach them how to be optimistic in the face of adverse circumstances. We can teach them what is uniquely strong about them.
We can teach them and ourselves how to get help when it is most needed. The clinic devoted over two hours to representatives from Texas Children's hospital, who gave a lot of similar advice to what Emily Klueh and Jeff Grace gave on my podcast.
Gulf Swimming would be wise to keep their focus on the "whole swimmer" going forward. They are a massive LSC (by the numbers). As one coach told me, the LSC is a "sleeping giant" in terms of the competitive results they can achieve.
I agree, but the fact that they have a long way to go in reaching their competitive potential actually presents a huge opportunity. Gulf Swimming has professional leadership in the form of an Executive Director, and clubs with the resources to pave a different path forward than many of the "top" clubs in America.
They can and should continue to put "the whole swimmer" and athlete well-being at the forefront of what they do from the top down. Results will be a positive side-effect of that action, and, I hope, make many other areas want to emulate what they are doing.
I will continue to visit the area and work with teams and watch as things develop in this ever changing part of America,