This morning I finally made it back to the swimming pool after weeks away due to work commitments and post-triathlon season chillaxing.
I struck up a conversation with a young man that had just finishing swimming as well. He was quite good in the pool, and I noted as much. He told me that he’s not even in swim season right now, but finishing up an abbreviated cross country season with a meet down in Peoria this weekend.
“It’s not a state meet, they’re not having that,” he told me. “We’ll be running in flights, with the sixth and seventh guys in a race, then the fourth and fifth, the second and third and finally the top guys.”
I didn’t bother asking him where he fit in that scheme. It mattered more that he was excite about the race. His build wasn’t a traditional cross country guy build. He was a bit thicker than that, but who is to judge how fast a runner can go based on mere looks? I can’t.
We talked some more about his swimming. He related a funny story about how his coach threw him into the 500 because there were no other spots to fit him into the meet, and he won. “So the coach went, ‘Huh…” he laughed. “Now I swim a bunch of other events too. But I’m working on my sprints.”
We both agreed that the 200 is a tough event. I mentioned that I swim mostly for triathlons, and he told me, “I do those too. They’re good for scholarships.”
He’s a junior in high school now and just starting to look at colleges. I shared that having a solid swimming foundation is a real advantage in triathlon events of all distances. His running will also be a great gift for a multisport competitor. “Cycling is mostly just Time In The Saddle,” I advised. That’s pretty true. A guy that can swim and run as well as this young man can learn how to focus that power into the bike.
As we parted ways I shared that I know the coach at a local college where triathlon is now an intercollegiate sport. I gave him the name and shared that he should reach out. Last summer I trained with some college kids from that program and they were really athletes of fine character.
Out in the parking lot I saw him heading toward his car and called out, “What kind of running shoes do you like?”
“Saucony,” he replied.
“Good shoes,” I told him.
“Thanks for talking with me,” he added.
I smiled, waved and said, “Good luck this weekend!”
It’s a habit I have, talking to young athletes and old. It’s a great way to learn what motivates other and share a bit of encouragement. We should all mentor each other, when it comes down to it. That’s what the whole idea of community is all about.