At the beginning of every season at our annual Time Trial Meet at the Warrenton Aquatic and Recreation Center, we review our team’s National Anthem Protocol.  You will never catch someone on the Seton Swim Team disrespecting our American Flag.  Below is an outline of why and how we respect our the national colors:

  • The first letter in our GEMS value system is G for Gratitude
    • Before every meet, you are going to have an opportunity to remember how lucky you are – and that opportunity is the National Anthem.
  • Why are you so lucky?
    • It starts with the great job you did picking your parents
    • And that is closely followed by the fact that you were randomly born in the United States
      • You could have just as easily been born in
        • Afghanistan or Syria
        • Somalia or Ethiopia
        • Russia or China
        • Or even France
      • You were born in a free country where
        • any advantages or disadvantages
        • can be negated or overcome
        • by the choices you make
      • And you have the freedom to practice a faith that tells us that even our times of misery are redemptive
      • We have the freedom to determine what we become
        • What more could anyone ask?
  • 250 years ago, there was no government on earth that derived its right to govern from the consent of the governed.
    • Then came our Founding Fathers who created a system of government that is now the envy of the world
    • In only 170 years, the United States went from zero to the greatest country on earth
    • And no country in the history of the world has ever been more powerful and done more good with that power than the United States
    • We are back-to-back World War Champions
      • We literally saved the world for freedom and the dignity for the individual – twice!
  • There were many imperfections in the world in which our Founding Fathers found themselves when they created their dream
    • And it was through the greatness of the people of our country that we fought through those difficulties, and have reached a place where all men are created equal
    • Slavery was a world-wide institution that was more than 5,000 years old
      • Our great country took only a bit longer than “four score and seven years” to put an end to it.
      • It took 660,000 men dying in the Civil War, Americans all, to right that wrong
  • A lot of men, and now women, made the ultimate sacrifice so that you can live is this land of opportunity
    • How many people in this world would be better off if they lived in the United States?
    • All of them!
      • Assuming they are willing
        • To be self-reliant
        • To work hard
        • To honor the social contract that is implicit in a free society
      • That is why so many are fighting to come here!
    • But you are already here
      • If you learn to:
        • Train your will
        • Sacrifice, and
        • Think of someone other than yourself
      • Then you will have boundless opportunity in this country
  • So for the rest of your lives, I want you to remember that every time you hear the National Anthem.
    • Stop what you are doing
    • Face the flag
    • Stand with your heels together, toes apart, your left arm stiffly at your side with your fingers slightly curled, and your right hand over your heart
    • Look at that flag and don’t fidget
      • This is not time to be looking at your friends and it is especially no time to be talking to them
    • Then you can do one of two things – these two things only:
      • Say a little prayer of Thanksgiving for this great country, or
      • Sing along
  • This is very important to me, so we have a specific way we, as a team, show our respect for our country.
    • We will form two lines across the edge of the pool
      • Girls in front
      • Boys right behind them
    • The lines should be perfectly straight
    • Everyone facing the flag at the same angle
    • Everyone in uniform
    • The only exception is if you are swimming in the very first heat
      • Which is usually boys exhibition relays
      • You boys can be behind the blocks
      • But all of the other rules apply
      • Straight line with your relay, standing erect, hand over your heart
  • To make sure that everyone is very clear on what I expect, we’re going to practice it right now

Two final thoughts:

  • I thought you might find the history of why we sign the Anthem at sports events in this country interesting.  See it here.
  • Try to watch this impromptu performance by Johnny Cash without being moved.  See it here.

Coach Jim Koehr

Seton Swimming’s G.E.M.S.

What makes Seton Swimming special?



“Who has it better than us? Nobody!”



We focus on better. Good takes care of itself.



We help our opponents over the bar that we raised by winning



We offer it up. We love all of our teammates.

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