Hello Nitro Families — Even though this note is geared to the families attending the TAGS (Texas Age Group Swimming Championships) meet this week in Conroe, I thought I would share it with everyone. Please feel free to read even if not attending the meet. Thanks! Coach Mike.
Hi TAGS Families! Welcome to the week of the Meet! This note is for our Parents AND Swimmers to read – so please be sure your swimmer reads this along with you…
- I made the mistake of reviewing the psych sheet at such a late hour (or early hour) and next thing you know I’m reviewing every event! We’re definitely going into this meet as one of the underdogs. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It takes some of the pressure off the kids, and allows us to stay a little under the radar! A lot of the excitement is not just the individual stories that emerge over the course of a 3-1/2 day full prelm/final Championship meet, but the chase for points as a Team.
- This year, simply based on psych sheets and strength of relays, The Woodlands will be tough to beat. Giving them a run this time around looks like it will be Lakeside, Cypress Fairbanks (Fleet), Alamo Area, and possibly us if we can work some magic over the three and a half days/nights. Anything can happen, and a lot usually does! It’s a long meet, let’s not get too high or too low on the emotional rollercoaster. Let’s keep our spirits up, give it our best every race, every opportunity. One thing is for certain – there will be some FAST Swimming this weekend. Any 21st or 28th seed that can wind up top 16 is HUGE. Every B, C, and even a couple of D relays that can possibly sneak in to score some points – can make a BIG IMPACT.
- In every race, you are not just competing against the swimmers in your own heat. You are competing against the swimmers in the heats prior to yours and/or the heats still to swim after you race. Lay it all out there every race — holding nothing back. Whatever the outcome, as long as you gave whatever you had at that moment, the Coaches can’t ask for anything more.
- Things will not all go just like they are planned to go. We know that there will be some super-human efforts turned in by several of our swimmers over the meet. There will also be some that are not so hot. That’s the way things roll. No getting around that. Be there to help each other back on their feet, and if you have a terrific race, try to have some of that positive mojo rub off on as many Nitro kiddos as possible.
- Plan your meals — and pre-order as often as possible. If you can order your food ahead of time, like while the session is wrapping up, it is a GREAT move to pick up the food and head back to your hotel – or the lobby with a few other athletes if you want to chat a little while you eat. But try to avoid the late night eat-in restaurant stops, and the long lunches —- they will take their toll by the time Sunday rolls around. Historically, Sundays have been very good for Nitro – part of the reason is we try to stay even keeled for the first part of the meet. But another reason is our parents are SMART – and they plan ahead to maximize rest and downtime of the athletes!! Naps are KING!
- Parents – Stick together, and be the never-ending positive energy that the kids need. I have written this a lot over the years, but please remember that your child wants one thing more than anything else from you — whether at a meet, or at home, wherever…They want to know you are proud of them. They don’t want or need to have their race critiqued, or how they shouldn’t have breathed at the finish, or how they missed a wall. The BEST thing you can do is to give them an unconditional, heartfelt hug when you see them, and tell them you love them and that you are proud of them.
- You will see some parent behavior this weekend at the meet that you’d rather not have to see. Be smart enough to recognize it, and be thankful that we don’t operate that way. We’re better than that. Every one of us is better than that. Be the example of what is RIGHT about youth sports and competition. Yeah, I love to win. It feels pretty good. But when I didn’t win, I still shook the hands of my opponents and told them good job – and meant it. I lost a whole lot more than I won. Let’s do what we can to be THAT Team – the team that is the example of what other parents wished they were a part of. If someone in the audience from Nitro wants to lead a cheer, then go for it!! Make it loud! But at the same time, if a parent from another program looks like they are in need a friendly face and perhaps some room to watch the meet, I hope our Nitro parents are the first ones to make a little room for that person. Make a friend.
- Do your best to excuse yourself and avoid the negative trains that seem to pull into the bleachers near end of season meets. Not everyone is going to be swimming lights out. Expect that. The experience of handling setbacks is well worth the price of hotel room and gas to get there. There is not a greater sport than swimming — it tests all sorts of boundaries!
- Parting thought: I am not sure what made me think of this young man earlier Tuesday morning as I was wrapping up my own swim, but as I warmed down with a couple of easy lengths, I imagined what it would be like to swim without any vision — so I shut my eyes and proceeded down the lane. It didn’t take long before I bumped into a laneline. I corrected and kept going, and then had to stop because the wall was coming up. I thought back a few UT meets ago, and I don’t know if any of you remember, but in lane 1 of the non-flag end, there was a little boy competing in the 50 freestyle – who had no use of his eyes. He caught my attention as I saw him start from in the water. The beep went off, and he took off swimming as hard as he could swim. He had a Coach who walked alongside yelling commands of “Right, Right, Right, Left, etc.” helping him direct himself. When he got near the wall at the 25, the Coach extended a long wand/pole with a bulb on the end of it. She tapped him on the head, and he commenced to do his turn. Before I knew it, he had successfully completed it and he was headed the other way on his final lap, to complete his race. He got out and I saw this huge smile from him. Here was a little guy who swam because he loved to swim. And just because he couldn’t see what was in front of him, he wasn’t going to let that stop him. Let’s think of that little guy this weekend as we head to Conroe to compete. Let’s compete for the Love of the Sport! Win, Lose, or Draw — We’re coming back to TAGS in just four and a half months for Long Course. Make some great memories with your kids this weekend! Thanks for being a part of Nitro, and I’ll see you at the pool! Coach Mike.