While swimming laps in my neighborhood pool, I watched a father playing with his children. Out of habit, I noticed certain things about how the children swam. The daughter did this vertical dance and thrashed her legs and arms about with her face tilted upwards for air. Her brother did the same dance but in a more horizontal position. Immediately I was thinking about tricks and tips I’ve learned throughout the years to correct body position and inefficient kicks and pulls. I estimated how I would adjust my swim lesson to their approximate ages and current swim abilities. This all happened in my mind while swimming lap after lap and occasionally looking at them from the corner of my eye.
Why did I have this urge to swim across the pool and start teaching? Simply habit after so many private lessons and years of coaching? My inability to mind my own business? Or was it a desire to share something I love?
To me, that’s what teaching is at its best…sharing something you love. Of course, just because you love something doesn’t mean you can teach it and just because you can teach something doesn’t mean you love it. I’m blessed with a desire to share what I love through teaching. These aren’t claims that I’m the world’s gift to teaching…I simply enjoy it.
Swimming, for example, is a part of who I am. I learned how to swim in a hot tub before I could walk. My parents always had us in the pool or on a boat growing up. There are probably more pictures of me near or in the water than anything else. I love doing flips, underwater breathing contests, water fights, and simply feeling the cool sensation of water on my skin. Bouncing off the bottom of the pool and cannonball contests were favorite pastimes.
Besides having fun, swimming on a team truly shaped me as a person. Lessons that I learned from my experiences still carry me through many “real world” situations. Where did I learn discipline, goal setting, or sacrifice? Swimming. Where did I learn how to handle failure, competition, or dedication? Swimming. So, today I asked myself, what if I had never learned how to swim? Who would I be?
All of this is not at the forefront of my mind every time I teach somebody to swim. One of the biggest reasons for me to teach swimming is purely safety. Sadly, drowning is a major killer of children under 5 years old. No amount of safety gadgets can save your child as well as knowing how to swim to the side of the pool if they accidentally fall. My biggest joy with teaching, however, is passing on the opportunity of swimming to others. I want them to watch the rain drops from underwater and play with their friends without swimmies. They deserve to swim around the pool until their fingers prune and have a pool party for their birthday. Maybe they’ll choose to join a swim team one day and make it to the Olympics…yes I’m that good. In all seriousness though, I don’t want everybody I teach to follow my same passions. I just want to share my passions so that they have the choice.
It’s a blessing to be able to teach something I love. I promise I will never take that for granted.