A few months ago, while I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with all of my "free" time in Penang, I decided I would try my hand at being a swim coach. This seemed like a natural fit for me. I've been swimming since I was 6 months old, when my mom took me to the YMCA and started me in lessons. I feel like I grew up in the pool and started competitively swimming at 9. Many of my summers as a kid were spent in a pool or in the lake. I remember one summer where my brown hair turned blonde from all of the chlorine or the next summer when I had perpetual "swimmer's ear". My love for swimming has followed me to adulthood and all the way to Penang.
Back in August, I was in need of a purpose and some kid time. After a few rough weeks of really missing Candlelight Ranch and the children that we work with, I realized that I needed to get some face time with kids. I had been helping one of the kids at our condo with her swimming and her parents had been encouraging me to become a coach. So, I emailed Dalat, the International American School here. Their principal, Brian, and head swim coach, was super happy about my request to help coach. He was especially shocked to find out that I'm willing to volunteer since I don't have a kid at the school.
Practices started in mid September at TAR University where we swim in an outdoor Olympic size 50 meter pool. The pool is huge and 50m is a long way, especially when you are 6. On the first day of practice, coach Brian sent out an email to the rest of the coaches and named me, HEAD coach. Seriously, I was a bit surprised but up for this challenge. My intention was to help coach the team and fill up a few days a week with water and fun!
Since our first day of practice, I have enjoyed every minute of being "Coach Jenn." I love watching kids swim hard, learn and have fun. I have 37 swimmers ages 6 to 18 on the team. We have kids from all different levels and everyone is getting better every day! I tend to jump in the pool every practice to "demonstrate" a stroke or a drill and the kids love it! (The real reason I jump in the pool is because it's hot, but I don't tell the kids that)
Coaching has really solidified my passion for working with kids and providing space for them to learn and have fun. I feel like I have "my place and my thing" here on this island. I have big plans in store for swimming in Penang....