Mid 2000 I organized a kids swim team. My job was to coach them in all four strokes, freestyle, backstroke, butterfly and breastroke. As a Total Immersion swim coach, I would be very focused on swim quality over quantity. I believe that swimming well first can lead to swimming fast later. I had about 10 kids on the team, non of them ever competed before in swimming and most of them didn’t know the strokes accept a little bit of freestyle. It was exciting to me to have kids who were “blank slates” when it came to water and swimming. No poor or inefficient swim habits to alter.
One swimmer, Jacqui, came to me at 14. She did not know how to swim when she joined the team. I taught her all four strokes which she executed beautifully. One summer she came with me to attend a Total Immersion Four Stroke kids camp. She was not a standout swimmer as far as speed, but she did swim very well, mastering each stroke equally, for a young teen. I do believe people did enjoy watching her swim as she made it look easy.
Eventually Jacqui graduated and headed off to college. To my delight she found work at a pool lifeguarding and coaching a kids swim team. I knew Jacqui was going to teach these kids what she knew, good technique and good swim skills which she learned while on swim team with me. Sure enough her team went from consistently losing to at least placing at swim meets! She was a great coach who layed a solid skills/technique foundation for these kids which paid off for them.
Just last week while Jacqui was home for a Family visit, she joined my group of triathletes for an open water swim. She was not prepared to swim, but she full heartedly jumped in with us borrowing cap and goggles. She did confess before we started she had not been swimming for at least 8 mos. Work and graduate school had usurped most of her time, but she was doing boot camp to stay active, just not swimming.
I was confident she would do fine, oh how right I was! I stopped midway through the swim to take video of the group and kayakers as we made our way across Echo lake in Franconia, NH. Jacqui had a smooth, effortless stroke as I expected! I knew she had such a perfect foundation from her earlier days, that it would never leave her. She easily made the mile swim, even with her lack of sport specific physiological training. I can think of numerous athletes and fitness swimmers who would love to be able to do what Jacqui did impromptu.
For me this shows that taking the time to develop and master a skill has long term positive effects when done mindfully and purposely as Jacqui had done. Are you focused on long term success? Are you Kaizen focused?