Sunday, June 7, 2009

No, But Semi-Seriously, Folks...

Because the response to news of the Channeling Peace Initiative has been so strong, I thought I at least owe Mr. Coach and his prospective English Channel-swimming athletes a full blog about their highly admirable endeavor. CliffsNotes’ version: American David and Pakistani Usman, who both swim for Mr. Coach’s college team, are going to do a relay swim across the English Channel in early August (check out the Channeling Peace Initiative Web site). It’s their way of saying, “See? We can all get along in this world if we just try a little harder.”

And by “try a little harder,” they mean “swim 21 miles through very cold salt water.” The rest of us just have to promise to stop killing each other.

It’s a very cool idea, though I’m not really sure how they came up with it. One day, Mr. Coach came home and said something like, “David and Usman are thinking of swimming the English Channel this summer as a show of support for the power of international friendship.” And I thought maybe he was hallucinating because he had ridden his bike for three hours that day, so I just got him his dinner a little faster.

But a few weeks after that, it started coming together with the fundraising and the publicity, and now, as the expression goes in peace-initiative circles, they are so screwed because they are really going to have to do this. And so is Mr. Coach, who will be getting in and out of the pilot boat to pace them. He’s been swimming with me to get in shape for it – and can I just say I do NOT appreciate his sprinting past me when he’s doing his pull-buoy laps (and, yes, you are sprinting).

But the Coach Family is nothing if not supportive of world peace and bridging the gap between cultures. Why, the photo that graces today’s blog is a perfect example of how much we have done to help Usman learn about American culture. You see, it was taken during the November of Usman’s freshman year. Mr. Coach, Usman and I were at the pool one day during Thanksgiving break. He was stranded there at school for the break (although I think he went to David’s for Thanksgiving dinner; I know we had him over for Christmas).

So there he was, doing his workout in Lane 3. And there I was in Lane 6 while Mr. Coach was on deck with our camera. It had already been quite an adjustment for Usman to get comfortable swimming with women, but he was getting there. And on that day, we really helped him “get there.”

I needed a photo of me doing a flip turn for our Christmas newsletter (obviously it’s not your average Christmas newsletter). So I would swim toward the wall, do a flip turn and Mr. Coach would try to snap a picture at the right time. You could just about hear poor Usman’s sphincter slamming shut every time Mr. Coach shouted, “Nope, you gotta keep your butt in the air longer! Let’s try it again, but slower!”

Well, eventually we got our shot and thankfully Usman didn’t quit the team or need psychotherapy. And he’s done a lot since then to educate us about his country and culture.

Now he and David are going to do a lot to educate us about the power of international friendship. I can think of easier ways they could accomplish that, but I doubt I could think of a better way.


  1. I wish that Mrs. Coach could report to us from the English Channel. I never have heard any eyewitness reports from folks who actually are on the boat. Usually it's just remembering Gertrude Ederle and Anne Revere in "National Velvet".

  2. I wish I could go! But we are actually working on figuring out if Mr. Coach can Twitter with updates during the swim. Hopefully the boat pilot can tell us, but in the meantime, if any of this blog's British or French readers know anything about the Channel's "telecommuni-capability", please let me know!


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