Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate October 2001

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I've been a swim coach for five years now. My coaching strategy for this sport differs greatly then it would for a team-oriented sport like basketball or football. Few meets are swum against other teams, but are rather large competitions of at least a half of dozen teams. The old saying goes, "Its not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game" is not farther from the truth in so many sports. Winning is everything. If you lose, you have failed. Or at least that is how I saw it as a competing athlete in my day.

Now that I've been coaching for a few years now, I realize the importance of that famous quote. The summer team I coach is a much tighter knit group, though less competitive then the one I coach in the fall, winter and spring. The Sharks Swim Team, which I coach almost year round, is an USS (United States Swimming) based program and participated by those swimmers who more dedicated and competitive.

These swimmers swim purely for time and try to beat their best every race.. It's a different coaching style then the one I use for my summer club, the Newfield Seals. Here it is more team based and the meets are swum as dual meets, against one opposing team. This kind of competition, though not at the elite status of my Sharks team, is what I prefer.

A swimmer may not be very good, but if he can go out there, give it his all and bring home a third place, that is victory in my eyes. Since these meets are scored on a points basis, every race in which a swimmer of mine qualifies in the top 3 means we have succeeded. Sure there...