After finishing up a coach training camp in Spain yesterday, we were celebrating at dinner together when I posed this question to our new group of international colleagues:
What other activity would you do if you suddenly could not coach with swimming? What other coaching/teaching activity could you do that would allow you to express the same features you love in your swim coaching?
This question is meant to help expose what specific aspects of coaching do we love the most. When we consciously know what aspects we love the most then we have the opportunity to maximize our time for those, to increase our satisfaction in the work.
For me, I would still want to study, process and map information, turn around and teach and coach others in the knowledge and skills for complex activities, especially those that involved movement and relationship (with self, with others). I would want to do this even if I no longer had to work for a living.
This same question could be posed to us as swimmers (or runners)…
What other activity would you do to replace what you love about swimming, if you suddenly couldn’t swim anymore? (granted you would not be devastated by grief at the thought!)
This question can help expose what our deeper motives for swimming are. When we know those more clearly, we can choose the events, the training, the partners, and the coaching that fit us better.
For me, I saw inside that I would immediately choose to return to rock climbing. It is not about competing with others or making a faster time, but about developing my own mind-body connection, becoming more deliberate and precise, becoming stronger, becoming smoother, becoming more calm and decisive. It intensely deals with the mental while forcing exquisite balance, finesse and specific strength. Every move, every route is a new puzzle. There is just your mind-body, and the puzzle of the rock, and no one else can do it for you. Complete responsibility and freedom (and glad there is a trusted friend on belay!).
This shows me why swimming solo in a diversity of conditions in open water is so appealing to me, despite the intimidation of some conditions. My training is generally aimed at keeping me moving in ways that are safer, stronger, and make me able to go longer, so that I am prepared to handle a variety of conditions with more confidence. Wild open water is like rock in a way, in that every new patch of water presents a new puzzle that my body-mind must adapt to and merge with. (I certainly have to use my imagination a lot in the pool, and do my best to create training situations that push some of my boundaries, as much as I can in that tame environment.)
So what about you? What other activity would let you express what swimming allows you to?