Age does not always equal wisdom

I wonder sometimes if in fact we begin life perfect, and over time we lose a lot of what is good within us?

I have just returned from a busy day at a swim gala with over twenty young swimmers aged eight to twelve. I am exhausted from talking and cheering and tired due to an early start. Yet I am buzzing. Lessons children teach us

As I sit here enjoying silence I have a huge grin on my face, and I feel proud. I know it’s not the done thing as an Irish person to be proud, and worse still to let anyone know you feel it, but so be it, I’m guilty as charged. For tonight as I sit here tired, the memory of so many magic moments from today wash over me.

It is not the wonderful swims I watched, where a swimmer makes a certain time and progresses up a grade, (although I am thrilled for those swimmers). It is the many moments of strength, grit, and determination I witnessed today, I remember so fondly.

There was the swimmer who just a few months ago had a nightmare of a swim meet, everything that could go wrong did, giving them results a million miles from the one they deserved. Tears were shed on that occasion, as they continued to swim each event, performing way below their potential. Words of comfort were exchanged, but it is difficult to explain to a hard working ten year old that better days would come. Fast forward to today, where they swam up to and ahead of expectation, resulting in beaming smiles and a skip in their step all day. You couldn’t but watch this swimmer and smile. A lesson in life I doubt they will ever forget.

There were the few swimmers disqualified for minor indiscretions. Some were upset and there were even a few tears, but within moments I watched them gather themselves, put it behind them, and swim as if it had never happened. Not an easy task when they had worked so hard to achieve a good time, which would not now be recorded.

I watched young swimmers sit with nervous friends, encouraging and distracting them. Swimmers roar on their team mates, celebrating and high fiveing as if it were the Olympics. Swimmers who did not make the relays generously congratulating those who did. Swimmers continue to battle, despite the fact their goggles had fallen off, or worse, had filled with water.

So many dramas in a single day.

Most of these young swimmers arrived in our club as five year olds. Some will continue to compete, others in time may decide not to. As I coached them earlier today I thought how much of life’s lessons competing was teaching them, tonight I realise I was wrong.These young swimmers already knew most of these lessons, it was I as an adult watching them who was learning afresh about friendship, resilience, determination and sportsmanship.

I thank each and every one of the young swimmers today, for lessons well learned.

photo credit: Alain Bachellier via photopin cc

11 thoughts on “Age does not always equal wisdom

    1. I’ll take the wine thanks very much!
      I must say I’m not sure which of us got the most out of the day, the coaches or the swimmers. 🙂

  1. I think that every child is born with the capacity for goodness… and for the opposite. What children are absolutely brilliantly constructed to do is learn. In a tiny space of time, they learn to communicate, they learn a language, learn to walk and run, become literate. But what makes the difference is what they see around them. If they see love, joy, consideration, caring; if they’re exposed to art, music, culture, appreciation for beauty all around them—that’s what they soak up like sponges. But even better, that’s what they process, integrate, and give back. Unfortunately, the same thing goes if they are exposed to the opposites. Sure, every child is unique and comes with natural gifts and abilities; those allow them to internalize what they learn and personalize how they reflect it back.

    I think it’s what keeps parents and teachers and coaches going. Every teacher will tell you they learn more from their students than they teach (certainly, they can’t be in it for the money!). I think the kids you coach (and parent!) are incredibly lucky to have someone with such a huge reservoir of the gifts that add up to goodness. It would be absolutely amazing if they didn’t reflect these gifts in their dealings with others.

  2. I enjoyed reading that. Well done to all the young swimmers …. and to their coach.
    I can very much relate to this. I get the same feeling when I’m choreographing a school show, whether for young children or teenagers, watching them all grow throughout the whole process and then seeing them reach for the stars on the final production. It’s wonderful……

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