Monday, June 20, 2011

Dolphin's 2011 Invitational Swim Event at Mesa State Pool

And another annual invitational is now under the Dolphins Swim Team belt. The sad fact is that this is the very last such meet to be hosted by the Dolphin Team because, as of July1, 2011, the team will transition into the Mesa Mavs Swim Team, or is it the Little Mavs, or whatever. The sad part is that having been founded in 1954, the team is 57 years old, pretty much as Grand Junction as apple pie is American, anyway, you get the idea. 
Yes, it is with much nostalgia that I think of the Dolphins. Someone tried to point out the increased possibilities of forming a most formidable team now under the care of a university noting reduced numbers,etc. What that person seems to have no knowledge of is the fact that swimmers under the current coach learned far more than swim strokes. They learned that it is hard work that gets results. Besting your own top time is just as important as winning first place. Learning from disappointments is probably more important than winning everything because real life requires overcoming many obstacles which provide no warm fuzzies.  So, the wonderful thing about the Dolphins is the fact that throughout the 57 years, many a young person has grown in life skills such as focus, tenacity and self confidence helping them live a successful life. Having talked with many parents, parents whose children long ago graduated from the ranks of these swimmers, and parents whose children recently were and or currently are, swimmers in that organization, I heard numerous testimonals verifying the fact that various coaches did so much in forming strong character in their swimmers.
One parent, at the invitational, remarked that her son had been heading for trouble and it was his swim coach, Dale Leonhart, who helped him get his sights back in focus. Another parent described that due to Leonhart, her son is now a successful college coach and professor. I truly feel my own daughter would not be the strong, self determined successful individual she has become, if it were not for "steel blue eyes" as she sometimes refered to her coach. Then, this seems funny, there was the parent who jerked her kid  off the team because she felt the coach didn't push her enough. In fact she started another swim team since she was going to "show Dale,"all because he advised her not to push the daughter so hard because he felt the child wasn't quite ready physically to achieve what that parent wanted. He advised that time would build skills necessary for winning, to let the child grow. Again, here is the evidence that a reallg good coach knows the blue ribbon isn't the only thing swimming teaches.  

There are but many positive things attributed to being a member of the Dolphin team with coaches who really cared. No more Dolphins, has left a void in my heart, for I can't quite see how college kids, working for five to eight bucks an hour, who will be taking young swimmers in hand, can enstill the wisdom of coaches who are truly, heart and mind, dedicated to forming a whole person, fins and all.
So, at  that last invitational, the Dolphins did well placing 5th out of 30 teams. A total of 489 swimmers vied to best their individual times and swim for top places. The 48 members of the Dolphin team swam hard and earned a total of 541 points. Loveland, with the biggest team and therefore huge depth, took first with a total of 1,412 points. 
Mesa State, now Colorado Mesa Univeristy, is hoping the team continues under its new name. It will be looking to enlarge the numbers and increase the age groups. Everyone wishes them well, but many will miss the Dolphin title. Terri Hermes and Dale Leonhart expect to stay in swim coaching in one way or another. With their talents and their love of the sport and its athletes, we hope they continue their dedication in coaching. Thank you, Terri and Dale.
P.S. Another question arises,  will there still be the family involvement, setting up for meets,  the family summer outings where mom and dad take the kids, sun screen and tent, blankets and all to Cortez, to Longmont, to Craig, to whereever, as they watch their youngsters battle the waaves of the various pools, special times, spent together, encouraging family ties and many great memories? A real swim team is about so much more than first place or huge numbers.

Everyone at a swim meet finds
something to do.

Warm up times are like schools of fish.

Waiting for the action.

Coach Terri, loves her

Looking good.

"So, that was my time."

The team waited for finals to begin.

More of the team

And, even more dolphins

Wouldn't you know, a polk a dot

At the starter

All sizes and all ages...

Swimmers seem to have eccentric hair dos

"I wonder if I can win this time."


And they[re off.

Add caption

"Oh man! my arms are burning!"

"So are mine."

"And mine..."

Just hanging on.

"Am I there yet?"

Dale Leonhart has always had his dry sense of
humor, his blue eyes, his to the point questions,
and an amazing devotion to helping his
swimmers think, problem solve, and seek to
always better themselves.  The swimmer next to him
knows he has the world ahead of him. He has
many lessons from Leonhart which will help
him make the good choices in life.

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