July 15th, 2009

To Watch Me Swim Is to Understand Who I Am

Summit Area YMCA Seals Swim Team Pool

Two months ago, Hank Buntin, the longtime head coach of the Summit Area YMCA Seals Swim Team, retired. Upon hearing the news, I e-mailed Hank the following letter, which I thought I’d share here.


My mother told that your retirement party was richly deserved, well-attended, and fun. I wish I could have been there, so that I could have shared my respect for your steady, storied leadership of the Seals.

Swimming was the rock that, from age eight until 18, brought together therapy, exercise and camaraderie for a couple hours each night. Indeed, had you not chosen me to be part of the Seals after I showed up for try-outs in a baggy, decidedly un-Speedo-like swimsuit almost 20 years ago, my life might have taken a far different direction.

Swimming taught me myriad life lessons–the importance and fruits of hard work, of ethical behavior, of esprit de corps. And you, Hank, taught me that fun and purpose are not mutually exclusive but complementary.

I still wear my Seals t-shirts to the gym, still think of myself as a swimmer, and still experience great pride and fond memories whenever I enter the Summit Y.

Thanks for taking a chance on me, for staying with me, and for inspiring me.

Very respectfully,

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