Everyone Deserves an Opportunity
Of the many reasons I love competitive swimming, I rank Guaranteed Opportunity at or near the top. In the form of an assigned heat and lane, swim competitions guarantee you an opportunity to succeed.
This is less common than we'd like to believe. Most sports limit the number of athletes participating- basketball teams can only field 5 players at a time, baseball and football not only limit the number but also assign only 2-4 players to specialty positions. Worse, most competitions are dynamic (or "open") and only offer opportunity to athletes when the ball literally comes their way.
Unfortunately opportunities are not yet guaranteed in Charleston swimming. Many local coaches only enter athletes in their "good" events and often won't offer championship meets to swimmers who fail to qualify for State Champs. Finally, even some of the local seasonal leagues strictly limit the official/scoring participants in each event.
I do not understand why we place these limits on our youngsters, especially if we are to make Charleston into a swimming power. If we limit opportunities in swimming, especially at the novice/age group level, then what is so special about our sport? How do we plan to entice young age groupers away from soccer, basketball, etc. if we make swimming far too similar to those other sports?
The beauty of swimming is that everyone gets an equal opportunity. We embrace that.
We provide opportunities to every swimmer on our team. We practice and drill our kids on all four strokes, regardless of who is "good" at what. We enter swimmers in their "off" events at meets, providing opportunity for a best time and visible improvement. We commit to tapering every single swimmer for a designated championship meet, even if that means we travel many consecutive weekends at the end of a season.
We do those things because everyone deserves an opportunity. If everyone in Charleston is guaranteed an opportunity, then Charleston maximizes its competitiveness. And if we maximize competitiveness, then Charleston swimmers become tougher, faster, better.
Everyone deserves an opportunity. Everyone.