Welcome To My World! Four ways to involve your non-swimming spouse or partner

Welcome To My World!
Four ways to involve your non-swimming spouse or partner

By Elaine Krugman

Elaine and her husband Bruce make a great team

Elaine and her husband Bruce make a great team

Is your spouse or partner a non-swimmer? If so, chances are that your swimming life is a solo endeavor, and a foreign concept to him or her.

Having some separate interests and friends, in addition to having those that are shared, is healthy in a relationship. Rather than being constantly joined at the hip, it gives each person some time apart to pursue their passions, and blossom as an individual. In some relationships, though, it’s the pursuit of those personal interests that creates stress, resentment, and even jealousy.

If you find yourself nodding in the affirmative to that last statement, read on for ideas as to how you can enjoy your swimming life to the fullest; and, keep peace and harmony in your relationship.

First of all, remember that it should be a two-way street. To receive the support you would like to have for your swimming, you will need to be supportive as well, so both of your needs are met. In my case, for example, my retired husband, Bruce, is a glass artist and has a small hobby business selling his creations. I offer my enthusiastic support by assisting him with sales at craft shows, and I run his online business, Cooked Glass Creations on Etsy. We are a team in every sense of the word.

When I decided to take up my high school sport of swimming after 31 years out of the pool, my non-swimming husband lost a gym workout buddy. Rather than sulking and resenting me for joining U.S. Masters Swimming and spending six mornings a week training in water rather than by his side, we found ways for him to get involved, and support my passion.

Here are four ways you can get your partner involved with your swimming:

Elaine's husband, Bruce, films her strokes for video analysis

Elaine’s husband, Bruce, films her strokes for video analysis

First, share your goals. I shared my goals with Bruce, so he understood what I was trying to achieve. By being on the same page, he could offer the appropriate type of emotional support at the right time. (It’s all perspective, right? Coming in last place in a swim race is just fine with me if I achieve a personal best time! In that case, congratulations and a smile are much more appreciated than a solemn look when I return to the bench.)

Second, enlist the help of your partner during your training sessions. If your schedules permit, bring your partner to the pool with you periodically to time your practice races, count laps, or even shoot stroke videos.

Video is such a powerful objective feedback tool, because the camera doesn’t lie or sugarcoat your stroke flaws. I had Bruce shoot videos of my stroke, so I could send them to my part-time coach, and post them on the U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums for feedback. As the critiques rolled in, Bruce would sit down with me to read them. I would then point my flaws out on the video, so he could learn how to spot them from up on deck. Over the past seven years, he has gotten so good at spotting flaws that he can see them in other swimmers at swim meets! He can also walk alongside me on deck while I swim, and watch for any flaw I want him to look for in my strokes. Even though I’m a solo swimmer, Bruce has become my valued “deck coach”.

Bruce and Elaine at the 2014 FINA World Championships

Bruce and Elaine at the 2014 FINA World Championships

Third, get your partner involved as a valued asset at swim meets. Timers and lap counters are always needed and appreciated, so that is one way to be right where the action is. In addition, your team never has enough photographers, especially if there are multiple teammates swimming in the same heat. And how about shooting videos at the meet, in addition to taking photos? Bruce shoots video of my races so I can review them and see where I need to make improvements. In addition, Bruce has gotten to know a lot of my swim buddies over the years, so he has even volunteered to video their races as well. He has become the team photographer at some meets, too! Being so involved makes swim meets so much more interesting and fun for Bruce, and he feels like he is part of the action, rather than a passive bystander.

Finally, make out-of-town swim meets about the two of you, not just all about you. Compromise, and the two of you will be happy when you travel to a meet. Let your partner have an equal say about hotels, restaurants, and other activities. When Bruce and I traveled to Montreal for the 2014 FINA Masters Swimming World Championships, I let him call the shots for our post-meet activities and travels. (Fortunately, our interests overlap, so I was overjoyed at his desire to travel to Quebec City!)

Make the goal for you and your partner to be a team. Give just as much (or more) support as you expect to receive, and be willing to compromise. Most importantly (and one that will have a lasting impact), express gratitude for the support you receive. You can never say “thanks” enough, or show your appreciation too much.

ElaineKrugman3-003Elaine Krugman is a U.S. Masters Swimmer (55-59 age group) and writes articles for the Georgia Masters Newsletter.  She also writes a blog about three of her passions:  travel, swimming, and chocolate; and, she’s happiest when the three intersect! Check out Elaine’s blog here!

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