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October 12, 2009
“Some days you just feel like a fire hydrant at a dog show.” A classic ‘Jimism’, or funny sayings, as we swimmers call it. I have been swimming competitively since the age of four, and of those thirteen years Jim Callahan has been my coach for eleven years. Starting with the six and under record holder to one of the ‘A’ girls on the varsity swim team in high school; Jim has seen me in the lowest times in life and the happiest moments of my life. Jim is not just an average swim coach, he is an amazing and superb swim coach; although there are times in our season where I just want to scream at him because of the very challenging workouts he has us do. Jim is a motivator, he is successful and strong and he knows what he is talking about, even when you don’t.

‘Jimisms’ are classic sayings that we hear during practice and meets. I never fully understood the meaning of them until last year but they are classic motivators, just in disguise. Jim knows how to get you excited and pumped up so that you can have a great race. He also can see in your facial expression if you are having a bad meet, see if you need motivation, and he will help you to get back up to the level of ‘fully motivated’.
I have bad swims all the time; I usually don’t know what I did wrong that made me do poorly or I do know but it lowers my confidence in doing well in the next race. Once again, Jim can pick me out and tell that I wasn’t happy by how I swam. His response is to usually blow it off and focus on my next race; if I still have my bad race in the back of my mind, it will indeed slow me down.

Jim wants the best for all of his swimmers; even if Thomas Worthington is competing against Worthington Kilbourne. We are one big happy family within two teams. Jim is the head coach of both of our teams, but he helps each swimmer, each teach the same amount as the other. He will tell each and every swimmer what they can do personally and as a team to get better. He wants everyone to have a goal in their swimming career. Even if it is surviving the first week, getting a personal best, or like mine- make it to states. I swim freestyle in practice all the time, and I am very good at it, Jim sees it and places me in all freestyle events. He chooses the meets that I can score the most points in for the team and get me the furthest in my swimming career. In challenging workouts in practice, Jim occasionally comes up to me and tells me what time he expects me to get on the workout. The times he expects me to go are always fast, but he tries to push me as much as he can because he thinks if he pushes me hard in practice, then I will show the same effort and dedication in a meet. Some days I feel like Seabiscut, the pace horse. With me going these ridiculous speeds, he hoped that I would encourage the guys on our team to catch me. He teaches us the right and wrong things of swimming, such as “If you circle swim, you are WRONG!” or “If you breathe inside the flags, you are WRONG!” There are many things where he does say we are wrong, more than right, but it just keeps us correct and looks like we know what we are doing.

Jim is not stupid; he knows what he is talking about one-hundred percent of the time. When we go to the weight room to lift, he does the entire set with us. He has been swimming his entire life; swam at Ohio State, and is a part of U.S. Masters Swimming. The masters swim group is a national organization for swimmers of age from eighteen to over one-hundred years old. Jim has been the champion of the 400 IM several years in a row and runner-up and champion in a few other events. He knows what he is talking about, he has seen every situation and outcome of swimming there possibly is. Everything that comes out of his mouth is for the best, for motivation, to help us in the future, for terrible situations and situations of pure joy and happiness.

Jim has made me who I am in the swimming world. Everything that I am and have to offer with my strokes and my speed has come primarily from him. I have had other coaches in my lifetime, but none of them compare in any shape or form to Jim. Because Jim has made such an impact on my life and others, my freestyle relay has made a pact, or promise, that we will give 120% of what we have to try to make it to states, for Jim. Our relay has come down to not doing it for ourselves but for Jim because he has made such a difference in our life. Jim has made my life great, he has supported me through good times and bad times, he has cheered me on and yelled at me, he has motivated me and made me want to quit. He has even done all that in one day. It’s those kinds of days where the ‘Jimism’ “Some days you just feel like a fire hydrant at a dog show,” comes into play.

Although I have until the end of this season and all of next high school season, I would just love to thank Jim. I don’t think he knows how much he has meant in my life and how much he means to me. As I continue to swim in college, I will always be thankful that I had such a great swim coach, Jim Callahan.

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