From the age of 6, I spent countless hours swimming back and forth in various pools around New England. While I certainly had a passion for the sport, my sister always demonstrated a stronger love of the sport on all levels. It was no surprise that she decided to take her love of the sport and turn it into a career. She has spent the past 6 years learning as much as she can about the sport and has developed into a highly skilled coach. When we lived together, I was often “forced” to watch videos of “intense” practices on a website devoted soley to swimming. Her passion and enthusiasm for the sport is unmatched by most in her profession and I am proud of her for establishing herself as the future of coaching in the college swimming world.
As a result of our close relationship, I know a fair amount about Abby’s swimmers. As much as I have tried to distance myself from the sport of swimming, I still look up results and sadly, I have to admit, that I watched the live results of the Ivy League Championships this year. Unfortunately, since I moved “south,” I don’t get up to Columbia as often as I used to, I haven’t bonded with the team this year as I have in past years. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to resolve this yesterday when I was invited to be the guest coach for their afternoon practice.
I spent a great deal of time trying to think of a practice that would be fun. I always liked the team sets that we did in college, that were often hard and left you utterly exhausted, but then I remember this was spring swimming. Spring is a time for fun! So, after racking my brain, and Matt’s, I came up blank. Matt’s only suggestion was, “do a pull set. I liked to pull.” Clearly, his idea of fun is, quite frankly, pathetic. Honestly, pull? How fun is that?
The night before my coaching debut, it came to me! I decided to create a practice that combine trivia and swimming through the use of a Jeopardy board. The next morning I woke up early and headed out to Duane Reade to buy some foam board and markers. I spent the next 2 hours (pathetic, I know) creating my master piece. I could not believe it when I looked up at the clock and realized it was noon and I had done nothing all day except make a Jeopardy board. But instead of feeling ashamed of my passion for arts and crafts, I proudly carried my board up to Columbia and into the pool. I was met by a few giggly freshman who saw the board and displayed the same excitement that I was feeling inside. From that minute, I knew, this was going to be awesome.
So after explaining the game,: each trivia question contained a mini set on the back, and if they answered the question correctly, they didn’t have to do the set on the back. However, if they were not able to answer my brain buster questions they had to do the set. I had four different categories of questions: Columbia Women’s Swimming, Columbia University History, Coaches’ Corner (facts about their two coaches) and I Love NYC (NYC pop culture) – each with 4 questions that increased in difficulty as they went down.
The girls were enthusiastic and fully embraced my idea. They stunned me with their knowledge of Gossip Girl, team records and mostly, school history (the pride they have for their University was inspiring). They also impressed me with their positive attitude when they didn’t answer the question correctly and had to complete the set and their ability to do so successfully, especially considering many of them are just coming off a 3 week break.
Thank you girls for allowing me to be part of your journey. I feel very lucky.