We know lots of swimmers from the Sunshine State are graduating high school or college and setting on a new path in life. Whether that path is keeping you near or taking you far, we wish you best on your new journey. Keeping that in mind, we’re giving you a commencement address from legendary swim coach Jim Steen, who won more NCAA titles at Kenyon College than any other team in any division or sport:
OK. We’re ready for our coaching session. This is a little larger team than I am used to, but let’s give it a shot. I’m not going to ask you get up and move around or stand up and cheer. This session is definitely not interactive. Like generations of Kenyon swimmers, all you have to do is sit there and take it! Decide for yourself if anything makes sense or if you have a better way of looking at things.
I have three coaching points I want to make with you today, and they all relate to one’s capacity to perform. Before I begin, however, allow me the one convention of this business that I fully embrace, for reasons that aren’t necessarily related to sports. (Steen replaces academic cap with baseball cap).
OK, thanks. I’m ready to go!
So, how’s your attitude?
Probably pretty good today. What’s not to be good? You’ve successfully made it from point A to point B and tomorrow you’ll have all the necessary credentials to prove it!
What’s your attitude going to be like on Monday? Or next month? Or next fall? I’m sure some of you have jobs lined up, many of you are off to graduate school, a few of you will be traveling, and still others are uncertain about what you’re going to be doing in the next few weeks, let alone the next few years. From my point of view that’s OK, because regardless of what you’re doing next week or next year, things will change and, in some cases, things will change dramatically. What’s most important in this whole process, however, is attitude.
Back in the mid-90s I had a big, strapping sprinter on my team, with a big booming voice, who won a couple of NCAA titles in the 50-yard freestyle. Fortunately, everybody on the team liked this guy, because when anyone was having a difficult practice, or a bad meet, or an awful day in class, or a problem with coach, his comment was always the same, “Hey, man, it’s all about attitude!” No doubt, an individual of lesser stature offering the same admonition over and over again would have been persecuted! Even though this guy wasn’t the hardest worker on the team, or the most talented, no one ever doubted the direction he was going.
And that’s what’s important to remember about attitude. It’s not whether it’s good or bad, but does it define your direction? If the best path in getting from point A to point B is due north, I’ve had very few individuals on my team who have made the serious choice to head south! People usually fall short because they’re a degree or two off in attitude and, over time and distance that can put you in a place far away from where you would like to be.
You may have honestly assessed what constitutes a journey in the right direction, but if you’re not performing the way you want to perform don’t look at what you’re doing, look at your attitude.
On my team, when I challenge someone’s attitude—and I love doing that—it’s not an attack on their character. It’s a belief in their ability to get back on course.
What you have made of your life today is a result of the attitude you established for yourself when you came to this place in the fall of 2007. Your life in the future will be the result of the attitude you set for yourself when you leave this hallowed ground. If you’re fortunate to have people in your life like you’ve had here at Kenyon—people you trust, people who know and appreciate you well enough to look you in the eye and remind you that you can do better, listen to them and make the necessary adjustment in your attitude. The worst position to be in is not slightly off course, and it’s doubtful that any of you are deliberately going to head due south. The worst position to be in is a belief by you, or those around you, that you couldn’t possibly do any better than you’re currently doing!
OK. We’ve pretty much redefined attitude as it relates to performance. Let’s take a look at your capacity to prepare.
How is your work ethic?
Is it helping you or hurting you in your capacity to perform? During your time on the Hill did you give it your best? Or did you avoid putting in the time and effort necessary to fully take advantage of your opportunities?
Regardless of how you performed at Kenyon, we can all agree—whether we subscribe to the 10,000-hour rule or not—that a sustained period of focused attention and applied effort is absolutely essential in getting better at anything that really matters. And, yet, hard work, in my experience, is not the sole determinant of one’s capacity to achieve. In fact, one’s sense of what can be accomplished in any endeavor—what is truly possible—is often compromised by too much hard work and too little imagination. All work and no play may make Jack a dull boy, but all work and no imagination will most definitely make Jack an under-performer. Of this I’m absolutely convinced!
It’s been my experience that the hardest workers are not always the most prolific performers. The correlation between grinding it out, day in and day out, and the capacity to perform at transcendent levels does not always appear to be direct. In discussing this with my fellow coaches on the faculty over the years, I’ve picked up on similar sentiments. The student who puts in the work is not always the student who is the most creative and engaged in their thinking. If you have a limited imagination—a limited concept of what’s possible—then performing in a truly exceptional manner at any level, in any arena, is improbable at best, irrelevant at worst.
You may have the talent to excel. You may have the intelligence to excel. You may have the work ethic and competitiveness to excel. But the real question is: do you have the imagination and creativity to continuously ‘reframe’ your reality so it is consistent with your highest aspirations? Imagination fuels perspective and perspective puts one in touch with the bigger picture. The bigger picture, in turn, allows for more possibilities and more ideas. Performing at one’s best begins with the creation and expression of an idea—nothing more, nothing less.
Do you have the imagination to see yourself doing something truly exceptional? Certainly it’s difficult to sustain a leap of the imagination that isn’t, in part, grounded in the knowledge and appreciation of one’s inherent abilities. But it’s been my experience that people greatly under value their capacity to perform and, as a result, their capacity to achieve.
Imagination can be improved. Committing the best of yourself to any worthwhile endeavor requires that you do so. By attaching your efforts to whatever it is you choose to do in a way that stimulates your imagination, you enhance your capacity to perform at any level. To quote no less a ‘performer’ than Albert Einstein on this subject,
“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”
My final coaching point of the day: It’s my contention that in any given moment one lives one’s life in one of two ways, either under a threat or for a challenge. In performing when it counts, it’s one or the other, under a threat or for a challenge. If, as Einstein says, “Imagination will take you everywhere,” then living your life under a threat will take you nowhere.
Perceived threats, often resulting in fear, invariably compromise our capacity to perform in the manner we most desire. And there are all sorts of perceived threats that ultimately reduce us in stature, making us feel small, insignificant, and powerless. There is the threat of failure. The threat of not measuring up. The threat of pain. The threat of humiliation. The threat of illness or injury. The threat of not being appreciated or valued. The threat of being exposed for who we are. The threat of not being understood. And the list goes on and on.
It’s so easy to live one’s life threatened by the outcome we fear that we deaden our senses to the process, content to merely occupy time and space, satisfied with a half-life of sorts. We go through the motions, occasionally wake up, look for our shadow, and quickly scurry back into our den of predictability.
And yet it is possible to reframe our threats into challenges and get a much better return on our performance investment with little more time and effort involved. In doing so, you first have to wake up. You have to be among the living! A conscious decision needs to be made that you’re not going to allow the same threats to keep undermining your performance.
Second, you have to be honest with yourself, recognizing and acknowledging that which most threatens you. It has to be disclosed to someone you trust. It can’t continue to remain a secret.
Third, you need to cultivate the two qualities we talked about earlier that are fundamental to one’s capacity to perform—discipline and risk—and then you need to know how and where to apply these qualities most effectively in reframing threats into challenges. Discipline and risk, when applied directly to living one’s life for the challenge, have a way of offsetting the threats that tend to compromise our capacity to perform.
Ask and answer the following questions:
Do you have the capacity to see the challenge in any situation in which you feel threatened?
Do you have the discipline to prepare for and stay focused on the challenge?
Are you willing to risk predictability in pursuit of the challenge?
If the challenge itself becomes your truth in any endeavor, can you really be threatened? Risk waking up to see your world for what it truly is—a playing field of limitless challenges designed for your personal edification and enlightenment. That being the case, and it is, what threat, if any, awaits you? Only one. Not playing the game.
Herein concludes our coaching session, but on Monday you start a new game. The good news is your attitude, imagination, and ability to see challenges where previously you saw only threats has been sharpened significantly during your time at Kenyon.
David Brooks, in a recent New York Times column, suggests that high performing individuals “begin with two beliefs: (1) the future can be better than the present, and (2) I have the power to make it so.”
When you leave the Hill this weekend accept the challenge of starting over, attempt to perform well in some capacity, and, if you are successful in becoming a somebody at something (and many of you will), I would offer you the following advice Jon Stewart gave his audience at a show in Columbus a few weeks ago:
“Be proud of who you are, but don’t wield it as a club.”
Thank you very much for inviting me to speak to you today.
Here at Florida Swim Network we are committed to promoting and helping swimmers in the Sunshine State. With that in mind, we have developed a website geared to helping these swimmers achieve their collegiate dreams. We’re proud to introduce SwiminCollege.com, an online guide.
We’re consulting college counselors, collegiate swim coaches, and some of the best in the business in order to bring you up-to-date information to help your swimmers swim in college.
Much of the SwiminCollege.com website is completely free, but if you want the full benefits of the site, consider becoming a member for just $1.99 a month. Parents, you will want to take advantage of this valuable source of information. (Many websites offering similar information will charge you hundreds of dollars, but we are committed to our fan base, wanting to make sure we offer you incredible value for very little in return.)
What you will find by becoming a member:
Check out our free guide to get you started:
(Click to view)
Senior Cameron Martin (Clearwater, Fla.) of the Florida swimming and diving team has been named as a nominee for the Brad Davis SEC Community Service Post-Graduate Scholarship, the conference announced on Tuesday. The overall recipients of the Brad Davis SEC Community Service Post-Graduate Scholarship will be released on April 4.
The Davis Award recipients each receive a $10,000 post-graduate scholarship, provided by the SEC. The 26 remaining male and female finalists for the award will also receive a $5,000 post-graduate scholarship.
This season Martin helped lead his team to their first SEC Championship since 1993 and a sixth place finish at the NCAA Championships. The Gators have also remained undefeated in dual meet action the last two seasons. The impact that Martin has left on the Florida swimming and diving program goes far beyond just what he has done in the pool.
Martin is currently serving as the President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Counsel and has been a representative for the swimming and diving team for the last three years. He has also performed well in the classroom as he has made the SEC Academic Honor Roll, was named to the CoSIDA Capital One Academic All-District Team and plans to graduate this May with a degree in zoology.
It doesn’t stop there, Martin also spends countless hours volunteering with the local community and was named to the 2012 and 2013 SEC Community Service Team for his efforts. He has helped with Habitat for Humanity, Caleb’s Pitch Syringe Art with kids, math tutoring, Softball’s Swing for a Cure, attended Bread of the Might Food Bank Drive, wrapped shoes for Gator Tracks and went on Shands Pediatric visits.
The SEC Community Service Award is named for Brad Davis, who succumbed to cancer on March 2, 2006. He had been a member of the SEC staff since 1988, first serving as an assistant commissioner until 1994 when he was promoted to associate commissioner.
The award recipients are chosen by a committee of Faculty Athletics Representatives from the 14 SEC institutions and are honored at the SEC Spring Meetings in Sandestin, Fla. on May 30.
Last year’s Davis Award recipients were LSU’s Cullen Doody and Alabama’s Leigh Gilmore, both cross country and track & field student-athletes.
To view the complete SEC Davis Award Nominees click here.
And here’s Florida Swim Network’s recent interview with Cameron, reflecting on swimming for the University of Florida:
The Florida Gators took 6th overall at the NCAA Championships.
The Gators’ Jason Taylor finished 16th with a time of 14:55.74.
UF’s Corey Main got 13th by going 1:41.91.
UF’s Matt Elliott broke his own school record, going 1:53.79 and finishing 6th. Meanwhile, teammate Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez finished 15th with 1:56.41.
Marcin Cieslak represented the Gators well again by finishing second with 1:40.62. Finishing 4th was teammate Sebastian Rousseau with a 1:42.20, and Cameron Martin was 6th with 1:43.55.
FSU’s Tom Neubacher finished 14th with 342.85 points.
The Gators finished 7th. Brad DeBorde, Sebastien Rousseau, Marcin Cieslak, and Matt Curby combined for a time of 2:51.74. The Seminoles experienced heartbreak once again with a DQ in the consolation round.
23. Florida State University
The Gators put an exclamation point on an exclamation point on an exciting night of racing at the Men’s NCAA Division I Championships.
Florida State finished 10th (although really ninth due to Stanford’s DQ) – Pavel Sankovich, Jared Pike, Mark Weber, and Paul Murray combined for a time of 1:25.80. The University of Florida was 13th as Cameron Martin, Richard Munch, Marcin Cieslak, and Brad DeBorde went 1:26.02.
UF’s Dan Wallace finished 3rd with a time of 3:39.87. Teammate Connor Signorin was 12th with a time 3:43.96.
The Gators had three swimmers tonight in the 100 Fly. Marcin Cieslak was second with a time of 45.35 while Cameron Martin was 12th with 46.39 with Brad DeBorde right behind him, 14th with a time of 46.83..
UF’s Pawel Werner was 14th with a time of 1:34.65.
The Gators’ Matthew Elliot went 53.30 to get 14th.
FSU’s Pavel Sankovich finished 11th with a time of 46.03.
The Gators claimed a national championship with this relay! Pawel Werner, Sebastien Rousseau, Marcin Cieslak, and Dan Wallace combined for a winning time of 6:13.27, two-and-a-half seconds better than the rest of the field.
19. Florida State
Day 1 at the NCAA Div. 1 Championship saw some amazing times – 17.86 in the 50 Free by Vladimir Morozov (Southern Cal) in the second leg of the 200 Free Relay. The University of Florida and Florida State both had swimmers competing tonight, too.
UF was the eighth seed coming in and finished eighth overall. Swimmers Brad DeBorde, Corey Main, Pawel Wener, and Matt Curby added up to a combined time of 1:18.29.
UF’s Sebastien Rousseau finished eighth with a time of 4:15.32.
UF’s Marcin Cieslak was second with a 1:41.45. UF’s Dan Wallace was 11th with a time of 1:43.31 while Eduardo Solaeche-Gome was 14th with a 1:44.30. Pavel Sankovich scored the first points for FSU with a 16th place in the 200 IM with a 1:44.61.
UF’s Brad DeBorde was 5th with a time of 19.40. FSU’s Mark Weber was 14th with a time of 19.73.
FSU’s Tom Neubacher’s was 7th with 383.50 points.
Florida’s men were 7th. Corey Main, Matthew Elliot, Marcin Cieslak, and Brad DeBorde combined for a time of 3:08.40.
NCAA action has already been exciting and heartbreaking for swimmers from the Sunshine State!
In a stunning event, FSU’s best shot at an NCAA victory was its 200 Free Relay, which was disqualified. The disappointed swimmers were Paul Murray, Trice Bailey, David Sanders, and Mark Weber, who would have had a time of 1:16.76, good enough for the top seed. However, this DQ cleared the way for the University of Florida’s relay moved into eighth place for tonight. Swimmers Brad DeBorde, Corey Main, Pawel Wener, and Matt Curby added up to a combined time of 1:17.83.
Florida’s Sebastian Rousseau is seeded fifth with 4:15.31.
The Gators’ Marcin Cieslak is the top seed tonight with a time of 1:42.52, while teammates Dan Wallace and Eduarda Solaeche-Gomez are in the semi-finals. Florida State’s Pavel Sankovich is also in the semi-finals.
UF’s Brad DeBorde claimed a spot in the top 8, with a time of 19.17, while FSU’s Mark Weber is competing in the semi-finals.
Florida is seventh heading in to tonight. Corey Main, Matthew Elliot, Marcin Cieslak, and Brad DeBorde combined for a time of 3:08.16.
1 meter Diving
FSU’s Tom Neubacher scores enough points to be in the top 8 – 345.10 points!
The 200 free relay is one of most entertaining events in swimming. It takes less than one minute and twenty second for four swimmers to each swim a 50 with the distance between first and second sometimes a hundredth of a second. in 2013 the Seminoles have one of the best 200 free relays in the country and hope to prove it this week at the NCAA Championships.
“We know we’ve been training all year for the opportunity to swim really fast at NCAA,’s,” senior David Sanders said. “We’re all excited that [training] is in the last two weeks.” Paul Murray, Trice Bailey, David Sanders and Mark Weber have been together for two consecutive seasons which is one of the main reasons they have been so successful.
“We don’t have to worry about [takeoffs] quite so much because we’ve done it off the same guy for two years now,” senior Mark Weber said. “We know how they’re going to finish, we know the timing coming in and it’s almost second nature just to be able to go off of that person and have a really great takeover.”
Despite the fast paced race, their is still a lot of strategy involved in how you stack the relay.
“My job is to get us a lead or as close to a lead a possible,” junior Paul Murray said. “It’s have the fastest reaction time and get my hand to the wall first.”
“Whatever lead [Paul] gets because he’s usually right there at the top just kind of hand on,” senior Trice Bailey said. “Bring it in for David to hop into clean water and finish it off.”
“Usually the third leg is where the weakest swimmer is,” Sanders said. “But to compete for a national championship you can’t have a weak leg. I know as long as I’m swimming fast enough to give Weber in first then it’s game over.”
“Coach Andy Robins likes to say go primal and I think that’s pretty much what my job is on the relay,” Weber said. “Whether we’re fifth or first it’s up to me to swim as fast as I can and out split everybody else in the pool and just bring it home.”
Now the goal is becoming a the first swimmers to earn National Championship honors since Brendon Dedekind in 1999. But to put their names on that distinguished list they know it will take a tremendous effort.
“Fast,” Bailey said.
“A perfect race,” Murray said.
“It’s going to have to be under 1:16 I think,” Weber said. “I think Auburn, Michigan and us are all capable of being that fast. I think the team that hits the perfect race on that day is going to be the one who wins.”
Despite great competition these four swimmers know when they are at their best, the can compete with the anyone.
“To have these guys that you practice with all the time and you have fun and joke around with and then to get up and race with them you know that everybody’s going to do their part and you’re going to win,” Weber said.
The training is done and race day is almost here so the quartet of swimmers will know soon if enough if they have what it takes to etch themselves in the history books at champions.
The Lady Gators battled hard on the last day of the NCAA Championships, ultimately placing 6th, which is four spots up from last year’s tenth. The University of Miami placed 20th, while Florida State finished 32nd.
“I am really proud of the girls,” remarked UF head coach Gregg Troy. “They fought all weekend long and stayed in the meet. It was a real good team effort.”
In the mile, UF’s Alicia Mathieu placed 5th in 15:52.88. She touched in just before teammate Jessica Thielmann, who finished 6th in 15:54.27. The Gators fared well in the 200 Back, Elizabeth Beisel taking 3rd in 1:51.17. (To see an interview with Beisel, click here.) Meanwhile Sinead Russell was 6th in 1:551.87. UF’s Ashlee Linn was 14th, going 1:54.82. (It should be noted that T2 Aquatics’ Liz Pelton won the event competing for California.)
The Gators placed two swimmers in the finals of the 100 Free, with Natalie Hinds taking 3rd in 47.73 (setting a new school record) and Ellese Zalewski 4th in 47.99. Florida State’s Kaitlyn Dressel was 14th in a time of 48.50. (SPA’s Megan Romano finished second in the event, competing for Georgia.)
The University of Miami had two finalists in the platform diving competition, Kara McCormack taking 6th and Linday Lester finishing 14th.
Congratulations, ladies, on a great collegiate season!
The University of Florida had another strong night at the NCAA Championship at UIPUI, but FSU and UM also scored points.
In the Women’s 200 Medley Relay, the Florida Gators placed 4th. Sinead Russell, Hilda Luthersdottir, Ellese Zalewski, and Natalie Hinds combined for 1:36.06 overall.
The Lady gators continued to look good as Elizabeth Beisel won the 400 IM, going 4:00.49, while Ellese Zalewski scored bronze in the 100 Fly, touching in at 51.69. UF”s Natalie Hinds was eleventh while he University of Miami’s Lucy Worrall was thirteenth. In the 100 Backstroke, UF’s Sinead Russell touched in second, going 51.46.
For the 3-meter diving, Lindsey Lester was the sole competitor from the state of Florida in the finals, claiming 8th for the University of Miami.
To close the night with the 800 Free relay, the Lady Gators claimed seventh – Sinead Russell, Elizabeth Beisel, Ellese Zalewski, and Jamie Bohunicky got the job done in 7:02.54. Florida State University was 16th, going 7:09.94 with Kaitlyn Dressel, Tiffany Oliver, Madison Jacobi, and Elizabeth Pepper.
8. University of Florida 189 points
22. University of Miami 24 points
30. Florida State University 9 points