Monday, March 23, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and the I'm-Just-Here-For-The-Exercise

Sometimes I think I've just seen it all.

I had the psychic with three-foot wings tattooed on her back; I had the observant Muslim woman swimming while completely clothed. I had an endangered brown pelican swimming in my pool and two rats (one dead, one alive) and a field mouse. I've had parolees, deaf students, transgenders, doctors and judges. I've coached doulas and flight attendants who both leap out of the pool when their phone goes off; lawyers and MBAs who cut class when it's going to be a hard day, and diabetics, epileptics, and asthmatics galore. I've had every variation of spelling on the names Megan/Meaghan/Meagan and pronounciation of the name Tara (Tar-uh, Tare-uh -- unfortunately both in the same class). I currently have a Daniel, Danny and Dan on the rollbook. I have two students in their 70s and two students who I coached in previous decades, who now have two children of their own.

But I still feel bad when someone has a bad day.

Daniel had a bad day today. He couldn't hold his stroke together, and flailed around like he was shoveling desperately against a collapsing sand cave. My daughter had a bad swim on Sunday, breathing every stroke for two laps of her 100 freestyle.

Excuses? Daniel stayed up till midnight, so he's got that going for him. Unfortunately his lanemate completely kicked his ass, which made it even worse since they compete every day. My daughter? I told her to remember that the 100 free (and the 50) are sprint events -- almost not the same stroke as her distance events, though of course they're both freestyle. She has to get used to breathing for distance and breathing for sprinting but she can't get it.

So I tell people that every day you either Look Good, Feel Good, or Try Good. If you don't "Look" or "Feel" at least you can "Try" -- right? Not always. I've given up correcting several people, who are just too hard-headed to change. I think they just like the way they are. Someone's buying all those self-help books, right? Don't want to learn new things. Nod politely then go back to the same old same old. I'm just here . . . for the exercise.

Why don't you just stab me in the heart? It's insulting. Do you go to Farrallon and ask for a grilled cheese sandwich? The Mazarati dealer and ask for an in-dash cassette? Breathe. In. Out. Okay, I'm fine.

It's too bad when people have a bad day, but then I really am reminded how much I love my job. It's easy to coach people when they're going fast -- everyone is happy. One order of hugs all around. When someone is slow, it's time to put things in perspective for them. You are not your swim. Just figure out what happened, and try to fix it. No one has a perfect swim, at least not one that can not be improved on later.

It's so much better to have a bad swim and feel bad than not to feel anything at all. Look at it this way, Daniel.