Like daughter, like father?

By Byron Haflich

Five summers years ago, I was informed by my wife that our family was to contribute about 12 volunteer hours to help time at an out door swim meet in Noblesville.  My first question was, “Why?” and she answered that our then 10-year-old daughter, Holly, was swimming in the meet.  My second question was, “When did she start swimming in meets?”

Fast forward to today.  I enjoy the endless picking up and dropping off of kids at swim practice, now three with Holly, Kyle and Brooke plus their friends.  I enjoy the endless hours of officiating swim meets.  I enjoy the endless laps, (maybe not so endless, but could be more) of swimming, competing and socializing with the Noblesville Adult Swim Team (NASTI’s) at the indoor Noblesville High School pool, the outdoor Forest Park Aquatic Center, open water swimming at Morse Reservoir and anywhere else where two or more NASTI’s gather.

So what happened?

A few months after those volunteer hours at Forest Park, I was skiing with some friends, Kevin and Jenny Elliott ,and was complaining to them about the endless hours of effort that it took to support our daughters passion for swimming.  They replied by inviting me to swim with them at the Noblesville High School pool with a group called the NASTI’s.  After some prodding I decided to give it a try.

I remember going to Dick’s Sporting Goods to purchase goggles.  At that time, I knew I didn’t want those real little ones that just cover your eyes.  I thought those looked dorkey.  I knew that I couldn’t “lap” swim with swim masks you can attach snorkels to so I compromised and found a smaller version of the larger swim masks.

My thoughts were, “Now I will look cool and not so dorky looking like those guys I saw at the swim meet.”  You know, those real short and tight swim suits, the small goggles that made you look like a near sighted professor and carrying those monster back packs.  The ones that looked liked they carried enough clothing to last a week, with all those tags and doodads hanging from the zippers and their names stitched in big letters for all to see, across the tops of almost every bag I saw.

The big evening approaches.  I show up with my suit rolled up in a towel, my goggles in my pocket and the attitude of, “this can’t be too hard, I have been swimming all my life”.

As I approach the pool, with my jammer swim shorts, 50 pounds the wrong side of 200, my mini-swim mask and the above attitude. I jump in lane one, next to Kevin and Jenny, and after a couple of warm-up laps, I get introduced to the team and off starts the work-out.  But first, I am told of the famous NASTI Rule #1.

Rule #1 means you must do everything the coach says without question and without fail – unless you don’t want to. I was told that night that I could do any part of the workout or none of it. It is my choice.  This is a rule I follow to this day and invoke with a little too much frequency.

During this workout, I remember huffing and puffing, probably with a face and belly as red as a lobster. I look over in lane 3 or 4 and I get this look from  Coach Doug Church that I took as, “slow down, you are doing too much, you look like you are ready to die” and he put up his finger and mouthed, “Rule #1”.  Thanks, Doug, you probably saved my life that night.

After my very first swim practice, I made a bee line home and went straight to my daughters bedroom and told her,(this is verbatim) “I have so much respect for the effort you have put into your swimming, but after my first swim practice, I have whole lot more respect for you.”

Today, (15 pounds the wrong side of 200), whenever I get in the pool I hear the affirming words of Jenny Elliot the first time I moved from lane 1 to lane 2 to swim with her and her husband, “Look, our little guppy is growing up!”.  These words give me pause to be thankful for all the swim friends I have made in and out of the pool, to be thankful for the motivation they all have given me to swim open water, to be thankful for the courage they have given me to push myself  both physically and mentally and more importantly, to remind me that I belong.

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