Well, it’s the last day of the month, and in my humble opinion, what a great month it’s been! I realize that this summer
has been totally different than any other summer we’ve had, but this past month or so of swimming has been fantastic.
Tomorrow will actually be the end of 6 weeks since we’ve been back in the water, and I cannot tell you how valuable this
time has been. Even with some vacations here and there, most of us desperately needed this time in the water, and being
able to swim at EW could not have been more perfect.
So Highbridge now has quite a collection of swimmers; some young, some old, some rookies, some veterans. We’ve got
a Caroline DeLong and a Caroline deShort and everything in between. I know school starting back may force us to
change our schedule a bit in August, but I’m going to enjoy this for as long as we can. The bottom line is…., we have
made a lot of progress in these past weeks. From Day 1 until now, it has been extremely noticeable. I am grateful to all
of you who are now swimming. It has been extremely worthwhile.
Just for fun, here are a few honors to mark the end of the month:
Hard Worker of the Month for the 13 & overs: Libby Livesay. There are a lot of teenage girls whose practice attendance
has been stellar for the past 6 weeks, but Libby should be the HWOM. Right now, she is the driving force of the team,
and I think she basically motivates many of the others. I have no idea when we can get back to some regular swim meets,
but Libby makes me anxious for those. Libby, and some others, have some pretty lofty goals, and I have no doubt that
these past 6 weeks have been crucial for whatever lies ahead. Runner-up for this past month would have to be Macie
McCubbin. And actually, Mia Foley has to be in there somewhere. She gave everyone else a one-week head start, but
has come a long way in a short time in July. So where do I put her? She turned 13 in the month of July so she could also
be the HWOM in both age groups!
Hard Worker of the Month for the 12 & unders: Amelia Lee. This one’s a no brainer, right? Anyone who has been to
any swim practice can tell you who the hardest worker has been lately in the 12 & unders. You know, you can talk about
how many people have lost “things” because of the Coronavirus, but I’m not sure anyone has lost as much as Amelia has
with missing out on 2 State Championship meets before she turns 13. It’s awful. I know what would’ve happened had
these meets taken place, and this is more than sad. But, to keep it positive, we’ll just have to make some great things
happen in the future so we don’t complain too much about lost opportunities now. This will be my goal for Amelia, and
others. Margaret Wilson just turned 13 and also missed out on a chance to enjoy a fun experience before she became a
teenager. So my goal now is to do so well down the road that we make up for it. Runner-up for 12 & under HWOM
would have to be Jack Lee. Jack has only missed one practice in 6 weeks, and this time has been awesome for not only
his fitness level, but mechanically, he’s doing almost everything near perfectly.
Most Improved: Andrew Tatro. Yeah, I touched on this in the last newsletter. No doubt about this one. These past 6
weeks have been brilliant for Andrew. He, basically, is a totally different athlete than the one I met on July 22. His focus
in practice is so impressive and the way he pays attention, for a young swimmer, is exemplary. I have thoroughly
enjoyed being able to coach the youngest swimmers, but Andrew has made this even more special. Ditto this for Isabella
Wong. The Isabella I watch in practice now is not even close to the same person I watched a month ago.
110% – Emme Johnson. I have also been very impressed with Emme’s effort in practice. This shows in her tremendous
underwaters and especially her massive improvement in kicking. Trust me, it’s been a lot of fun to watch this and to
know how much this time in the water now will pay off eventually. Runner-up for the 110% award may have to be
Team Social Director: Caroline Lee. I’m not sure that Caroline Lee has ever had a more beneficial 6 weeks of training in
her entire career. Caroline’s practice attendance has been amazing, not to mention being a regular at weights. If she
keeps this up, she will do well and she’ll be very happy. But I think every team needs a Caroline Lee. Caroline is the
planner; she’s the organizer. She’s the one who knows that HA will do well in the water, but it’s also going to be a lot of
fun out of the water.
I have never, ever had a team captain, but if I were going to choose one, I would select Ben Crockett. Ben is our only
upcoming senior in high school, and as far as I’m concerned, this will be Ben’s team for the next year. Because of how
long Ben has been a HA member, and because of the type of young man he is, we have all decided that we’ll do anything
to help him have a great final year of swimming.
So I’ve decided that our team mascot this summer will have to be a green heron. Literally, on the very first day of
practice, I noticed a bird that I’d never seen before, and there are at least three that hang out almost daily since then. If
you come to practice any morning, you will see a green heron. Jackson Campbell was the one who told me they were
green herons, even gave me pictures of a couple. I never really paid too much attention to birds until about 15 years ago.
I even had a bird feeder, still in the box that a relative gave me for Christmas years earlier that was tucked away in my
garage. So, 15 years ago, I was walking my dog in the woods down at the lake and I thought I saw one of the prettiest
cardinals I’d ever seen. A double-take made me realize that it wasn’t a cardinal. It had the most brilliant red body that
I’d ever seen, except for all black wings. Say what you want about red and black, but the contrast in colors was beautiful.
I told Tracy what I had seen, and later that day at a Dollar General, she bought a little bird book for me that I’ve loved
ever since. The bird book is broken down into the various colors of birds, so I turned to the red section and learned that
the bird that I had seen earlier that day was actually a scarlet tanager (the male is red and black, the female is actually
totally different). Google it and take a look. So after that experience, I took the bird feeder out of the garage and loaded
it full of sunflower seeds. Now my family makes fun of me because I sometimes sit there with my binoculars and study
the many different birds that visit my bird feeder. It’s fascinating actually, and I check off which birds I’ve seen. I
thought every bird was in my book but, for some reason, the green heron wasn’t in there. So it’s been a lot of fun this
summer to see them every day – goofy yellow legs, loud squawk and all. But the moral of the story is: Love and
appreciate things when they’re right in front of you. You never know when you won’t be able to see them or experience
them again. I had no idea that when I first saw that scarlet tanager 15 years ago, that I wouldn’t see one again until 3
weeks ago. I was at the lake again and couldn’t believe it. I’ve been looking to see another one ever since then and one
finally made an appearance after all of these years. I went crazy, ran up the stairs and made my wife and daughters take
pictures of it. It was beautiful. So that’s the way I feel about this swim team this summer. This has absolutely been a
blast. I love my senior group; it’s a great collection of teenagers – all shapes and sizes and levels of ability, but such a
great group. And the younger 12 & under group has been great, too. I haven’t been able to coach a group like this for 4
years and I love it. They listen well, try hard, and honestly, we’ve made great progress in the past several weeks. I know
what can happen to ALL of these kids in another year, and I look forward to whatever lies ahead for us. July has been a
Thanks to all of you.