Pete Malone retired this year. It amazes me that it has been so long, and I have met enough new people, that someone reading this blog (who knows me as well, which should go without saying) might not know who that is.I retired from competitive swimming 5 years ago, after an 11 year career. Of that 11 years, Pete coached me for 9. I began his program as a shy, closed mouth, 13 year-old and finished it as an opinionated, vocal college graduate. I often joked that Pete was my second father; I spent more time with him at the pool than I did at home with my own family. With nearly 6 hours a day devoted to the sport, and 7 hours to school, I used my house for food and lodging. Pete and I fought like a teenager should with their father. And he also wanted only the best for me, like a father only wants the best for his daughter. He was like that with every kid he trained. He treated us like individuals, and treated us like a team. He coached many Olympians, is in the Swimming Hall of Fame, and built a little team in the Midwest into a well-known, feared competitor.
People often ask me how I keep it all together, with marriage, medical school, a kid, a kid on the way, etc. And I can't help but think of Pete and his constant remark, "Life is a journey, not a destination". If there is absolutely, one thing that man taught me, straight to my core, it's accountability. That one word, that one trait, that is how I keep it all together. I make every decision in my own life, and once made, I own that decision. I chose to quit all sports, except swimming in high school. It was hard, but it provided me a scholarship top 10 NCAA swimming program. I then chose to go to medical school. I chose to marry Matt. I chose to have children in the midst of all of this, so the only option left, is to make it all work! Accountability makes one confident. It makes one proud of every accomplishment, and reflective of every failure. It gives direction and breeds excellence. (I think accountability is why I blog so freely about my life. I stand by my decisions, and have no shame in sharing them.)
I have no idea where the next year will take me. I may have to uproot my family, make Matt find a new job, move to a foreign part of the country, all so I can work ridiculous hours. But this is our choice, and we will make it work, and we will be happy.
I can only hope that Pete has loved his journey, and is fulfilled with all he has accomplished. I cannot imagine the satisfaction in knowing that you have inspired, touched and influenced so many lives, so strongly. Because that satisfaction is completely deserved, as Pete has always been accountable for every one of his actions (whether it's throwing a clipboard on the ground in frustration at a young athlete, or accepting his inauguration into the Hall of Fame.) And if you had seen the turnout to his retirement party; attendance ranging from his most current elite athletes to those he trained back in the 70's, you'd see what a lifetime of achievement looks like. So, thank you Pete.