What a year it has been so far – and 2020 is far from over! The COVID pandemic has created exceptional challenges for our organization the likes of which we have never seen before. The coaching staff is so thankful to our NAC families and board leadership for their flexibility and support during such an interesting (and ongoing!) stretch of time.
The financial crunch that the team is facing has been quite the topic of conversation around the office. We have been moved by the amount and frequency of donations we have received during the launch of our first ever large-scale fundraising campaign. After launching to only Masters/Tri and our Alumni, we have already reached nearly 50% of our goal in just 2 weeks. The notes pouring in from current athletes, former athletes, parents, and NAC coaches are an amazing reminder of the power that youth sport and the Nashville Aquatic Club can have on a young person’s life – and the role that Masters plays in the lives of our adult membership.
While the “bad” from the pandemic is easy to see anywhere you look, the good that has come from the pandemic may not be quite as obvious. The good, though, is more important.
During the course of the lockdown, we continually heard from parents and athletes about the value and incredible role NAC played in their athletes’ lives. Things like time management, socialization, physical exercise, camaraderie, and hard work were messages repeated to the coaching staff again and again. We have been so happy to hear those words! I want to highlight and reiterate those comments, and to remind everyone of the path we are on: the development of our athletes as people first and swimmers second.
We take a lot of pride in our mission statement, which reads, in part,
“Our goal is to instill a love of swimming so that swimmers of all ages may utilize the sport as an opportunity for lifelong enrichment. On each swimmer’s pathway through our program, we aim to build important life-skills that transfer away from the pool including physical fitness, self-discipline, and healthy self-esteem. We value these skills and the personal relationships built along the way as foundations for a lifetime of personal enrichment.”
The comments that you can read from our alumni on our fundraising page and the overwhelming messages from our parents during the pandemic reinforce that we are on the right track.
We understand, however, that for most of our athletes competition can be the highlight of their immediate experience. While it is rare that former athletes ever remember races or times, and instead the fun things they did in carpool or at practice, we understand that competition is a necessary ingredient to keep our athletes happy in the short term.
The coaching staff has been working tirelessly to navigate the new restrictions on competition imposed by USA Swimming and have a plan for how to begin to reintroduce safe competitions to help our athletes stay focused and on track. For many athletes, the side effect of a lack of competition can manifest as general disinterest – and we want to make sure everyone understands we get it and are working on it! Currently, NAC has interest from many teams across the region to come and swim at the Sportsplex. Current USA Swimming restrictions prohibit teams from outside of the Southeastern (Tennessee/Alabama/Panhandle) LSC from competing within our borders. In addition, Metro Government has their own set of conditions under which they operate which we hope to continue to navigate successfully.
We hope that as the months progress, this will change for the better and we will have the opportunity to bring in fresh faces and fresh competition. If there is anything we can do to help encourage your swimmer and keep them focused as things continue to slowly return to normal, please do not hesitate to reach out to their coach.
We are looking forward to a much improved end of 2020 and some amazing successes in 2021 and beyond.