The Chapel Hill High School swim team has a strong record of success. Their student athletes are talented and I’m sure their families savor their winning performances. However, several hours before their meet this evening, a different team of Tigers were swimming in the same lanes. The Tigers who swam this morning earn a different kind of honor. These morning Tigers are special needs teens who walk, splash, and cavort their way down lap lanes and across a rec pool. They are accompanied by an equally delighted and passionate staff who cheer their best efforts.
I’ve been swimming next to these kiddos for weeks, enjoying their accomplishments. I actually saw some of them take their first uncertain steps towards the huge pools years ago. Many are still uncertain while others paddle with glee. One kid can walk down the lane faster than I swim!
Just as the “official” Tigers’ swim team is grateful for excellent coaching, these other Tigers have equally proficient support. Their chaperones aren’t sitting idly by while the teens swim; they are calling out encouragement and challenges.
I also see what goes on behind the scenes, how gently and respectfully these Tigers are treated in the locker room. Talk about patience! Today I wanted to hug the staff member who managed to get her anxious kiddo headed toward the pool. That youngster was concerned about crocodiles and other sea monsters, but her personal coach was awesome in reassuring her that the water was safe.
So to both teams of Tigers (and coaches), congrats on your success! How sweet it would be to see you all together in the pool some time! @chccs