What SAIL Means to Me - 2010 Winner

Cameron Crawford - GCC

Sportsmanship: My many years of participation in the SAIL program have taught me many valuable lessons, especially those including sportsmanship. Beginning SAIL as only an eight-year-old, some of my first experiences in winning and losing were provided through SAIL. Initially, I had thought that playing a sport was all about winning. Never before had I really considered the concept of "how you play the game." However, since one of the great benefits of SAIL swimming is the integration of all ages of childhood and adolescence into one sport, I was able to learn from the older swimmers. They did not sulk when they lost, gloat when they won, or express jealousy or hostility toward their competition like we did as younger swimmers. In fact, they actually befriended their competition. They congratulated each other, made new friends and just had fun. Thus, I learned that SAIL was not all about rivalry but about friendship and having fun. The better the sportsmanship, the more enjoyment, the less pressure, the more friendships, and the greatest benefit overall.

Through SAIL, I have learned how to be a good sport, and how to have fun, even if I don't win. For me, sportsmanship begins long before I set foot on the blocks or finish my event. I display sportsmanship when I am called to go to the c1erk-of-course to get ready for my event, when I talk with my competitors as friends rather than opponents, and when I wish them good luck. It continues after the race when I shake hands with my competitors and tell them that they did a good job. Every day, I try to demonstrate the good sportsmanship I learned when I was younger so that I might pass it on to a younger swimmer as it was passed down to me. Additionally, the sportsmanship I have learned through SAIL has become a part of who I am in life.

Leadership: Although there are no official leadership positions on my SAIL team, as an older swimmer I have acted as a leader for my teammates for several years, through the examples I set both in and out of the pool. Outside of practice, I have worked as a lifeguard at our SAIL pool, which naturally established my authority, both among pool members as well as SAIL swimmers. In fact, people came to recognize me as a lifeguard, even when I came to the pool just to practice, or when I wasn't wearing my lifeguard uniform. Thus, they looked to me for. direction not only when I was perched atop the lifeguard stand, but also during practices and meets. For example, younger swimmers would ask me where they were supposed to go or what heat they were in, while older swimmers asked for my help in treating the bee stings and cuts that happened from time to time during the season. As a person of authority, I also learned to set an example and generate followers by picking up trash under the team tent or providing other directions to the younger swimmers who respected me.

My team leadership, however, goes beyond picking up trash, behaving well during meets, and telling people what to do; I also led other swimmers by the example I set during practice. Every year, I have attended as many practices as possible and worked hard while I was inĚ the pool. For an older swimmer with a full time job, this shows a high level of commitment. This level of commitment set the tone for practices, because nobody likes being passed during practice. This encouraged my teammates to work harder, which helped the team as a whole. In recognition of my hard work, I was awarded the 100 Percent Award from our team.

Mentoring: Ever since GCC implemented the Big Brother! Big Sister programs for the SAIL season, I have acted as a Big Brother to one of the team's new swimmers, usually to a younger child who had not been a part of Guppies. As a Big Brother, I always gave my little Brother a small gift each meet to excite him about swimming, cheered him on during the meet, congratulated him after his event, and answered any questions he might have had. Sometimes, it became my responsibility to ensure that my little Brother went to his events on time.

As an older swimmer, I have also been called upon to assist the coaches in many different ways. Most of the time, they asked for my help with work around the pool, but they occasionally asked me to help with the younger swimmers. Normally, this included helping to teach the younger swimmers the team cheers and to remind them what to bring for swim meets. I also consider my leadership and sportsmanship to be a part of mentoring a younger swimmer in the SAIL program, as previously described.

Through mentoring younger swimmers in the SAIL program, I have learned several life lessons. For example, I have come to realize the fulfillment of giving to someone who appreciates the extra attention and support. Additionally, I have also come to realize how much being a mentor can make a difference in my awareness of my own behavior that I model. Therefore, I have come to better appreciate the value of the mentoring experience as a tool with which to improve my own life.

Team spirit: To me, the team spirit displayed during SAIL seasons has always been a highlight and the aspect of the SAIL experience that provides the most lasting memories. Who could forget the shaved heads, body paint, or team chants that still echo in my head? My favorite memory was the year my friends and I got so excited about Divisionals that we constructed a float comprised of a wooden frame, wheels, and a large sheet of paper, which we decorated. When the time came, we lit green smoke bombs and burst through the paper, like a football team during Homecoming. For a twelve-year-old, that was fun! Although my antics may have become subdued some since I've become a little older now, I still enjoy social events, pep rallies, team fireworks, and cheers each year, then jumping into the pool at the end of Divisionals, no matter what place we scored in the meet. As I head off to Duke University to become a "Cameron Crazie" basketball fan, I'm sure I'll take a little of the team spirit I learned through SAIL with me. It's been a lot of fun, and I will miss the SAIL experience in years to come!