One of the unexpected bits of gratification about having swum the English Channel is that, suddenly, people want to hear what you have to say. I have had invitations to speak to management teams, Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis meetings, and veterinarians.
The veterinarians were great, but I will always be a softie for talking to swimmers. Hence, I jumped at the chance to talk to the Lyons Township High School Girl’s Swimming team about A Long Swim, and my sister Ellen and I went together.
Quick backstory: Ellen knows the folks over at LTHS because her sons were big stars there, not as swimmers but as golfers. She had contacted the swim coach, Kurt Johns, about a whole “Swim Across the Channel with Doug” idea where the girls would mark off 30 miles of swimming with the goal of getting a swim cap. Of course, it took them just a couple of weeks of mid-season training to rack up the mileage, so then it was my turn to go in to talk to them.
We arrived one afternoon when practice was about to start. All of the girls sat patiently in the pool bleachers while I yammered on about cold water, jellyfish, five-foot waves and the recent discoveries in ALS. They asked terrific questions and really listened to the answers. I can honestly say that I have never held the attention of high school girls so well, specifically including the time when I was a high school boy.
We couldn’t impose on their practice time any longer, so Kurt read off the names of the girls who had completed the swim. Each of the girls came up, shook my hand, and thanked me for the swim caps.
Among girls aged 14 to 18, you don’t expect attentiveness, let alone strong handshakes, eye contact and a thank-you. If those attributes are any indication, these girls will go far. A photographer from the school newspaper was there and she took a number of shots of the whole bunch of us. I couldn’t help but think that this is what is good about high school, swimming, mom and apple pie. I wanted someone to teach me the LTHS school fight song.
- There are 50 girls on the LTHS squad
- We handed out 43 caps
- Ellen counted that 35 of the caps were being worn by the time she and I left
I love this stuff.
I will report back.