Professionally A Pro

Meghan Abbott

It was a normal night of work, coaching kids how to swim. We could see our breath when we talked as our hands were tucked in our pockets, so they could not be touched by the piercing outside air. All the kids were standing on top of kickboards so that their feet didn’t freeze along with building-sized jackets, but they still had smiles from ear to ear.

We walked like penguins over to stretch in a big circle. I was standing with a newer swimmer, Addie, that had just moved from cubbies to bronze within the club, who asked me to help with her flip-turns. With big blue eyes peering out of her goggles, I could not resist helping her.

After cubbies ended, instead of helping with other groups, Addie and I started practicing. We stayed a full 30 minutes after bronze ended, slowly making progress but left with no turn. She would swim with all her might but only flipping about halfway, kicking hard but then turning on her side to replenish her air. She looked sad and cold. Time was coming to an end for her to be in the pool. Before leaving with the big, blue eyes she asked me if we could work more tomorrow. Of course, I said yes. She still had sadness in her eyes so I told her, “Don’t worry about today, ok? Stay positive because tomorrow’s a new day.” She had somewhat of lightness and left.

The next day I walk in and immediately was stopped by Addie asking if she could get in. We had to get through stretching first then 30 minutes of practice. Once we got through stretching and 30 minutes we worked until it was time for her to go. She sadly got out of the pool and looked at me and said, “Don’t worry about today, stay positive because tomorrow’s a new day.” She smiled and went home.

We practiced for two more days ending with lots of progress, but no flip-turn. “Don’t worry about today. Stay positive and tomorrow’s a new day,” I told her after each practice. It looked like it gave her hope, but with every practice, her determination stayed.

It was Friday which began like usual standing on kickboards with five jackets. The wind never stopped and the air had an icy touch to it. Still, with smiles on all faces, the biggest was on Addie’s. Her 30 minutes had passed so we started talking about different ways to approach the turn and which would work best for her. She tried many different ways but none were working. I said, “Ok, how about trying it the regular way but pretend to do a handstand, then somersault bringing your feet over your body.” She was confused but agreed to give it a shot. She liked doing handstands, pushing off the bottom like a rocket and flipping as she came down. She got ready and began her fearless swimming. Racing towards the wall she kicked over and got closer than before, but had to breathe and turned over on her stomach. Coming up with a happy face, we both knew, this was the way to accomplish her goal.

She swam to the wall to talk with me and I said, “As you’re coming to the wall, emphasize your kick. Use your hands to help you flip over. Don’t forget your imaginary handstand, then your somersault.” Saying, “Ok” like a secret agent preparing for a super important mission I gave her, she went back out. Staring at the wall zeroing in on her focus, she launched forward and swam with all her might. Approaching the wall, she did her somersault bringing her feet over her head, successfully flipping on her back and pushing off the wall. Quickly standing up she turned around and stared at me with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on any child’s face with excitement beyond belief. “YOU DID IT ADDIE!”

Doing a little happy dance she said, “I’m going to do it again!” Swimming with all her might, she did it perfectly again. The excitement in her voice and face warmed my heart. She was so happy she continued doing them for ten minutes.

I see her almost every day doing flip-turns on her own like a pro, even though she was a pro from the start. She taught me things that everyone should always keep in their hearts. Always have hope, never give up, and no matter the situation have a positive attitude with smiles on your face no matter how frustrated you get because in the end there’s always going to be good to come, it may just take a bit more time.