Contribution: Back in print with another pertinent article on everyone's favorite subject, "swimming," is Mrs. Johnson. Her article does more than rebuff allegations that swimmers are socially "stunted," it offers the individual a more tangible look at his or her goals.
WHAT MAKES A SWIMMER DIFFERENT by Mrs. Betty Johnson
A short time ago, after a crew of swimmers had left our home from a party, I was asked by a friend if I minded having all "those kids" at our house. I was verbally chastised for my reply and in retrospect, I can realize now that my answer sounded quite biased and possibly somewhat pompous, and for that reason alone, I suppose I should have used a bit more diplomacy instead of outright bluntness, for my answer was, "no, I don't object to 'those kids.' they're different from the others." I was immediately asked, "what do you mean, they're different? They're still young people aren't they. Surely swimmers are no more unique than any other crowd, so why do you say this? "
With that I began my defense. That, of course, wasn't my first nor probably last dissertation concerning the subject, so to conserve my energies for the more complex things of life, I'd now like to state my case for the swimmers. I'm not directing this article to interested parents, dedicated coaches or enthusiastic supporters of the program, but I am directing it to school teachers, part time pseudo coaches and to shallow minded adults who argue that we're turning our children and teenagers into swimming freaks. I'm also directing this to small cluks who find nothing better to do than gossip about our ideals, our coach, and in many instances, our swimmers.
Now let's take a look at our swimmers and while we're at it, let's take a look at the other side of the coin also.
There's one very important factor that I don't think many people are aware of today. So much has been written in the past few years about togetherness...fine, wonderful, but where do you draw the line. I remember growing up trying to emulate my parents, but somehow I find the role has been reversed today. Not so with the swimmer! He already had his set of values and it's not to see if he can grow a better tomato plant than mama or fly a higher kite than papa. He's doing something his parents can't do and he's getting recognition and respect from his peers and elders because he's earned it. Our boys don't have to smoke and slash tires in the seventh grade, and our girls don't have to wear scared hair and clothes so tight that breathing becomes hazardous. I'll tell you one thing though, the hoods of this world respect him and her along with the rest of the kids who are otherwise leading very conforming lives. This gives our swimmers self respect and purpose, and this is one primary reason they're different.
We, at Patton, belong to a very unique organization and perhaps that's another reason our kids are different. Not one of our swimmers is a social snob. Sure, Joe Dokes' family may have more money than John Doe's family, but so what? Money doesn't cut your time down nor lack of money keep you from becoming a champion. The only thing at Patton that money is, is a medium of exchange and "amen" for that!
Not so, however, in the outside world. Our kids have already learned an important lesson in values. Keeping up with the Jones family is relatively unimportant to our kids. It's who's ahead at the hundred that counts or who's working the hardest to covet first place. They know it isn't a new dress or a new sports jacket that gives them self respect and recognition. It's work--hard work! Question -- how many adults have learned this lesson?
Many people also feel our girls live very Spartan lives, that dances, shows and boys are out of the question for our gals. This also is another fable that belongs in the fairy tale classification. Not one of our girls is excluded from the so called normal social graces. They have parties and activities when desired, but it's not an all consuming occupation. Popularity in the swimming world does not depend on dancing, but not one or our girls needs to take a back seat to the non-swimmer in highschool or junior high. How many girls in the non-swimmer classification can travel, meet, be with, and compete against champions from all over the country. Most teen dances sound rather shallow and uninteresting in comparison, and a show could never equal an out of town swimming meet. All of these things have they're place in growing up, but they certainly do not become first and foremost within the lives of our girls. This particular thought is directed at our girls, but I'm sure it's another reason why swimmers are different. (cont'd next page)
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