One of my great strengths is my ability to emotionally invest in something other than myself.

This past summer, I emotionally invested in all of my swimmers. Here’s the story of one that gave me possibly the most rewarding moment of my life.

My swimmer was 8 years old at the time. I have a great deal of patience, and it was tested every minute I had her at practice. It helped me grow when I could have given up at any point and been pegged as just another lazy millennial.

As the summer progressed the outlook on her impending championship meet was, quite honestly bleak. Her height advantage over the others and her knowledge of the sport had her a little complacent, and had me worried.

To the moment she stepped up to the block I was not only a nervous mess, I was terrified.

I asked myself, ‘Had I wasted an emotional investment on something that might not materialize?’

Even her mother looked at me with a great deal of tension and fear.

Fortunately for my heart, this swimmer turned on a gear I had never seen. The second day of championships, she lifted the first place trophy to the cheers of many across the pool. Embedded in the depths of youtube, there’s a video of me, for a lack of better terminology, losing my mind in the foreground as my swimmer tears away from the field.

Cameras snapped pictures of her and her wide grin as my stomach untied itself and settled into content for a brief moment prior to the next swim I had to watch.

At our age and place in life, emotional investment is a terrifying prospect. It’s safe and easy to guard ourselves from such actions.

I’m no expert, but had I not done that, I’d be sitting here with one less happy moment in my life.

It’s lead me to multiple failures. I’ve had some great moments of despair, but they pale in comparison to the moment that little Olivia Powell turned and looked at me, one hand on the touch pad, the other in the air with that all-knowing grin on her face that said “I fooled you.”

That day she fooled a lot of people. Life is too short to avoid emotional attachment to something you care about.

I care that much about all of my swimmers, and that day I left the pool incredibly fulfilled.

When it gets scary, hold your nose and dive in head first.