In 2011, I approached Mt Airy Learning Tree about teaching a class on swim training for triathlon. Recently certified as a triathlon coach and returning to swim coaching after 20 years, I received my first class of athletes and among them was Mark.
Mark was a runner, in excellent physical shape and very new to swim training. And as with most life long runners, swim training was not easy for Mark. He even confided much later that he almost didn’t continue with the class because he felt discouraged. Thankfully, he did continue and has been my most consistent swimmer for the past 5 years.
I point him out at swim sessions to new swimmers all the time (he doesn’t know that) and I tell them Mark’s story. How he pushed himself as an adult new to swim training to make swimming part of his routine, not because it was easy – but because he wanted to get better at it. And yes, I also tell them about how Mark used to go backwards when we did kick drills!
As his swimming progressed, so did Mark’s triathlon skills. He went from runner to triathlete and even went from ‘surviving’ the swim to enjoying the swim at a race.
Six months ago, Mark had (his second) knee replacement surgery. Within 5 weeks, he was back to swim training and I have no doubt that swimming helped in his recovery.
Today, I am beaming as I report to you that this past weekend, he won his age group at the Upper Dublin triathlon. My biggest disappointment of the weekend is that I wasn’t there to see him receive his award. Mark’s success is a true testament to his consistent hard work and commitment.
It’s never easy being new to something – and I think being new to swimming might be the hardest of the triathlon disciplines to really take on as an adult. To Mark and all the people who come out, late at night, all year long or even just one time to train with me, I appreciate you and hold dear the trust you put in me to get your swimming to the next level.