Yogi Berra—Swim Coach


Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra

It is little known, but Yogi Berra, Hall Of Fame Yankee catcher, was obviously a swimming enthusiast.  He was involved in the landing during D-Day where almost all, except paratroopers, got wet.  He got wet many times after the many Yankee’s World Series victories he was in.

It is also obvious that he was thinking of swimming in many of the sayings and aphorisms he is famous for.  Let’s look at some of these, with very few changes at all [marked by brackets], and see how they apply to swimming.

The most basic one is, “He hits from both sides of the plate.  He’s amphibious.”  Swimmers are also amphibious.  We spend half of our meaningful lives in the water.  Yogi knew that was important.

He also had good advice for swimmers to learn from other swimmers.  “You can observe a lot just by watching.”  Good advice, but he also cautions, “If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him.”  Not all of us can swim butterfly like Denny Baker.

Yogi also talked about focus.  “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up somewhere else.”  Therefore, be sure to set goals, or you’ll just keep swimming in circles.  Be decisive, as he also said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Yogi recognized that swimming is a mental game when he said, “[Swimming] is 90 per cent mental.  The other half is physical.”  How true.  We have to keep that in mind.

He also considered that you can’t succeed all of the time, “Even Napoleon had his Watergate,” but we have to recognize our mistakes, otherwise, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

He recognized the problem of aging and getting slower by saying, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”  And “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”

But Yogi was mainly an optimist, especially for anyone who swims events over 200 yards.  He said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”  I’ll remember that in the 10K next summer.

Yogi Berra never thought he would be taken seriously, being humble when he said, “I never said most of the things I said.”  We should discount such modesty and realize that if we follow Yogi’s advice, we can be much better swimmers.

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