Went swimming at Centenary yesterday and found the pool chock full of COSST (city of Shreveport swim team) kids. There was a scheduling mix up and the pool was double booked. So I went to ask the coach if I could get in with them. He growled about the mix up; Centenary had screwed up. But he said he’d clear the far lane and I could use it.
I saw there were two girls there, maybe 15 years old, using kick boards and didn’t want to further crowd the other lanes…
- me: I don’t mind sharing the lane.
- him: nah, I’ll move ’em.
- me: You really don’t have to…
- him(a little gruff): I don’t want you slowing down my girls.
- me (to myself): thanks a lot; you haven’t even seen me swim.
- me: Are you Butch?
- him: yeah.
I then told him that back in the mid-70’s I swam for Alexandria’s team and used to compete against Shreveport (Butch was coaching COSST way back then, too). He remembered my family and lots of the kids on our team and the conversation quickly went to our coach, Wally. I’d known that Wally and Butch were friends but I didn’t know that Butch’s dad and grandmother had practically raised Wally in Shreveport.
The story goes that Butch’s dad coached a swim team and they shared a municipal pool with recreational swimmers, roping off half the pool for each. Wally was a little kid and wanted to swim with the team, but wasn’t good enough and had been rejected. So each day Wally would show up as a rec swimmer and do the workout written on the chalkboard anyway, swimming on the other side of the lane rope. All that separated him from “the team” was a string of buoys stretched down the pool and Wally pounded out one workout after another.
Finally Butch’s dad caved and let Wally join the team. Wally went on to be raised by Butch’s dad and later to swim college for the university of Alabama. Not bad for a kid who couldn’t make the cut. And not bad for a coach who, probably like his son, tended to be annoyed by anything that interfered with workouts.