For a species that craves connection, the last three months of isolation could have been tough for us humans. Luckily, we’ve been able to find creative ways to keep ourselves connected.
Friends have been getting together for virtual movie nights. Families have been having online meals together through web conferencing apps. We’ve even seen late night television hosts connect with us from their own homes.
Continuing that connection is important, science says. An article in Psychology Today says that “social connection improves physical health and psychological well-being. One telling study showed that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. On theflip side, strong social connection leads to a 50% increased chance of longevity. Social connection strengthens our immune system (research by Steve Cole shows that genes impacted by social connection also code for immune function and inflammation), helps us recover from disease faster, and may even lengthen our life. People who feel more connected to others have lower rates of anxiety and depression. Moreover, studies show they also have higher self-esteem, are more empathic to others, more trusting and cooperative and, as a consequence, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them. Social connectedness therefore generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical well-being.”
So, with that said, when was the last time you connected with your swim team as a group, and what’s holding you back? No, there may not be meets to train for (it's worth noting that USA Swimming just released their virtual meet guidelines), but there is still value in getting your team together, even if it’s just virtually.
Have you considered:
Scheduling regular meetings just to catch up as a team?
Sure, we all sign up for sports leagues because we love competing. But the other benefit of sports, especially when they are played as a youth, is the development of socialization skills. So let your team socialize without the pressure of training or expecting a workout by organizing a virtual call that everyone can join.
You can make it fun by planning activities to be completed during the call. You can give out prizes for the goofiest hat. You can award a prize to the person who has the funniest/most creative virtual background.
There are also online trivia games that can be played as a group and prompt interaction and conversation.
Scheduling virtual team workouts?
No, you can’t take a webcam into the pool with you, but you can use that cam as a way to work on your team’s conditioning. Have everyone log into a call and then go through a workout, with you monitoring form and effort from your side of the computer screen.
Scheduling regular meetings to meet with individual swimmers?
Meeting as groups is nice, but you wouldn’t forego individual meetings if things were normal. Don’t forego them just because things aren’t.
The changes to our routines have been pretty drastic. Use your meeting times to check in with your swimmers and ask about their overall well being. How are they handling things? Any concerns? Anything they need help with.
After asking those questions, you can then move on to the more swim-team focused conversations.
Yes, we crave connection. That’s true whether you’re an introvert or not. At this point, it’s likely your swim teams haven’t seen each other in months. Luckily technology makes it possible to bridge those gaps and help your team move forward, even if it’s not in the water.