Debbie couldn't believe she was in the same position again. Four years ago, her daughter missed making the U.S. Olympic swim team. It had been agonizing then as her daughter, who was favored to make the team, struggled through her swim. Even her children, including her 11-year-old son, were in shock. After the race, it was discovered Debbie's daughter had swam through herniated discs and stress fractures in her back.
And now, four years later, she was watching another one of her children struggle at the trials. This time, it was her now 15-year-old son. Debbie prepared herself to console yet another child while wondering how this could be happening to her family again. She couldn't watch, so she looked at the scoreboard and nervously waited for the pain to be over... That is, until four simple words came over the P.A. system that snapped her out of her it: "And here comes Phelps!"
Debbie Phelps shared her inspirational story as part of her keynote address at last week's World Aquatics Health Conference in Indianapolis. Her story wasn't a story about medals and records. It was a story about how aquatics saved her family beyond just her son Michael. Like many families, the Phelps family has had its share of ups and downs, but it was in those calming waters, where competitive chaos consumed the family, that the Phelps family found peace.
Hosted by the National Swimming Pool Foundation, the World Aquatics Health Conference centered on the two foundations of the NSPF: keeping pools safe, and keeping pools open. I was a first-time attendee who not only enjoyed the numerous educational sessions at WAHC, but my time meeting with aquatics directors from around the country.
Shortly after I arrived, I met a variety of collegiate aquatics directors and one thing became clear immediately: These are people who truly love the water. It is a proud, close-knit community that is passionately committed to discussing why others should share their love.
The educational sessions I attended varied from natural swimming pools to programming, as well as the important role the Model Aquatic Health Code, or MAHC, could play in preventing outbreaks or illnesses. You can look for more details in my December 2013 article.