|A Special Olympic Trial Moment|| |
Jun 25, 2012
I want to share a special Olympic Trial moment with you.
Tonight I had what was probably one the greatest moments in my coaching career. Sarah Henry, one of my former age-group swimmers, qualified 5th for the Finals of the Women's 400 IM. I coached Sarah when she was 10-12 years old while in Raleigh, North Carolina; Sarah is now a Junior at Texas A & M University.
As a 12 & Under swimmer, Sarah was pretty darn good. What really stood out, though, was her distinct desire to better her Team and her self. Sarah rarely missed a practice, was hungry to learn and was about as coachable as they get. She was committed, loved her Team, loved being at the pool, pushed her Teammates and trusted in her coaches. (An interesting side note about Sarah: less than 2 years ago, she tore her ACL, a hard injury from which to recover. The determination and heart she showed in overcoming this obstacle was quite impressive).
This morning, Sarah's 5th place prelims time of 4:40.72 was about 1 second off of 2nd place (top-2 in the event make the US Olympic Team); needless to say, her old coach Chuck was very excited to see her swim in Finals. Sarah was a few seconds slower in Finals and ended up getting 7th place. After the race, I headed to the warm-up/cool-down to congratulate her and let her know that I was proud of her.
I stood on the side of the warm-up pool waiting for Sarah to be done loosening, and during a freestyle breath, she spotted me. She stopped loosening, swam under the ropes, climbed out and gave me a big hug. She told me how glad she was that after all these years (about 8, to be exact), I was able to see her swim. Later, she posted a special message to me:
"Chuck, I loved having you there. It was as if my career has come full circle and I have you to thank for how far I have come. Not only because you are a great coach, but also for building me so that I could find success as I went along past age group, high school swimming and grew as an athlete."
Needless to say, tonight was an emotional and amazing experience. It really put perspective on how what we do here at PKWY is a long-term investment for the "Big Things" to come. Does it take time? Yes. Does it take sacrifice? Yes. Is it easy? NO! Is it worth it? ABSOLUTELY!!!
I can't even begin to explain how amazing my time at Olympic Trials has been. The venue, pool, athletes, coaches and just about everything has been World Class. I wish I could be here the remainder of the week to cheer on Heather and Nick. I'm looking forward to returning in 2016 with more PKWY Teammates; a big sea of PKWY red in the stands will be a special thing.
In Big Things TOGETHER,
Sarah prior to her Top-8 swim in the 400 IM at the 2012 Olympic Trials.