Last week I had the pleasure of catching up with my former assistant coach at UVa, Kerry Smith. While Kerry did not directly oversee the backstroke/ butterfly group during practice, she always made sure to ask us about our personal lives and get to know us as individuals with interests outside of the pool. For me, it was wonderful to catch up with someone who had witnessed my college years and see me mature, both as an athlete, a student, and as an individual.
I originally reached out to Kerry because she is a wealth of knowledge regarding NCAA rules on Ivy League Schools, Division I schools, and Division II schools, as she is currently an Assistant Coach at Yale, previously an Assistant Coach at Virginia, and was also an Assistant Coach at Wingate. I thought her commentary on recruiting, what Yale is like, and how they are combining the swim programs would be great information to pass on to my clients. However, over the course of the forty-five minutes we caught up on our personal lives, talked about Yale, and the future of Yale’s recently combined program, I realized one really important thing.
I am very lucky.
I have had many amazing opportunities to be coached by and interact with so many incredible coaches and swimmers across the country. Beginning with age group swimming and my own college recruiting process, I was able to meet college coaches from across the country, as they recruited my teammates and me. Then in college, I had the opportunity to be coached by TWO amazing coaching staffs. Mark Bernadino, Chip Kline, Doak Finch, and Anna Miller during my freshman year and Augie Busch, Clif Robbins, Sam Busch, Cory Chitwood, and Kerry Smith for my final three years. While it was difficult to deal with a coaching transition after first year, I look back and feel thankful to have had all of these coaches influence me as an athlete and as an individual over the course of four years.
Not only was I fortunate enough to be able to swim for the University of Virginia, I was also able to be a member of the US National Team in 2014 and compete for Team USA in 2015. These experiences brought me into contact with individuals who have influenced the sport of swimming in some way, big or small. Whether they were on deck coaching athletes who would go on to break World Records or they were athletes who were warming up chase their dreams or even the individuals behind the scenes who coordinate travel and logistics. I feel so thankful to have met all of these people who have and who continue to make swimming the sport it is today.
Even though I still intend to post a blog on what Kerry and I discussed last week, I wanted to say thank you, to not only her, but to all the coaches, athletes, and individuals who have helped influence the athlete I was and the individual that I am today.