By Maurice Culley – December 3, 2012

As a coach, I am fortunate enough to see athletes in action every day. My job is to train, challenge, and motivate athletes. A lot of my athletes share their goals with me as well as the reasons they have chosen to sacrifice all that time training. But some don’t share their passion and I don’t always know what drives them to compete. What I do know is that they are committed and putting in a lot of time to compete in some sort of event or race. Why do they do this?

I’ve asked myself that question for years now and, after 15 years of coaching adults, I’m really starting to get the “why.” Although I have the answer now, I didn’t always feel this way. I’ve learned that the better I get to know my athletes the easier it is to coach and motivate them. When simply looking at who they are and what they do, a lot of people wonder, why are they so into it? Doctors, engineers, homemakers, and programmers spend their extra time training swimming, cycling, and running. Most of these athletes are very busy, successful professionals who make and use spare time to train for these events. Some even find enough time to train like professional athletes and get serious results. The goal is to improve and perform with high standards. All of this might, at times, seem a bit narcissistic. Spending all this time on training? How selfish! That’s what I USED to think.

The truth is that my athletes are very GIVING and all the time they spend training isn't just trying to achieve that perfect figure. The fact is that they are often involved in supporting nonprofit organizations and are great teammates helping friends get into fitness and events to balance LIFE!

There are many swimming events that are fundraises which improve the swimming community here in Austin. Many of the athletes I coach participate in different ways to make sure these events are a success. Obviously the great fitness and good health you get from training is a plus but the overall social aspect of being involved is fantastic.


Charity fitness events are a great way to raise money, and participants pay top dollar to participate in an event that is well produced. Without volunteers, these events suffer, and folks do not come back and participate in poorly run events. Without volunteer participation, fundraising is not successful.


These events donate a percentage of their profits to local charities and help keep programs going that impact the local community in positive ways.
PROMOTE: By the example of athletes training for and then talking about events, more people are influenced to participate either through registering or volunteering.

Some of the great local swim events that are good to know about are:

  • Cap2K Open Water Swim and Pledge Race, benefitting The Prostate Cancer Foundation & Us TOO International;
  • Lake Travis Relays, to help raise awareness and funds to promote proper water management and conservation in the Highland Lakes and other areas of Texas;
  • And Colin’s Hope Open Water Swim, to help raise awareness for water safety.

Another way that many of the athletes I coach give back is through interaction with others. They give a lot of time helping new athletes get more involved in the fitness community. Swimming is a tough sport to get into on your own and having a friend or training group is great motivation to help someone get started. These giving athletes are great teammates, often helping friends get past that point of feeling overwhelmed and anxious when starting a new program. I often observe more experienced athletes staying patient and giving friends time to “catch up” a bit, and I always find it very moving when I see how we all care about encouraging friends to become health conscience. I also tend to see couples that use sport and training to balance the various facets of life. It’s neat to see when one spouse signs the other up for a race and supports training towards breaking out of a rut or getting back into shape. I also see couples who give to each other by taking a turn doing chores or managing the “kid thing” so that the other can get in training time without feeling stressed about leaving home responsibilities.

Teamwork requires patience, planning, and a lot of giving. Next time you hear your friends talk about the results of their last race or complain about their last swim split at a triathlon, remind yourself that they may not be as self-absorbed or completely narcissistic as they sound. Athletes may actually be giving up a lot of time to raise money and volunteer and participate in a community organization. Many will give their time to get other athletes involved in the fitness community. And the next time you hear talk about how many hours someone spends working out or training, take it as inspiration to give yourself a bit more time to stay fit and keep healthy.

Maurice Culley is the owner and director of Austin T3—Team Triathlon Training, one of the largest triathlon training programs in the country, serving athletes in all three sports and at all levels. Culley has an extensive swimming background; he was a member of the University of Texas Longhorns from 1992-1996, which included membership on a National Championship team (1996). Culley went on to coach and took Austin ISD’s Bowie High School’s varsity team to a state championship and won a National Championship with the Circle C swim team. As a triathlete, Culley was a qualifier for the World Championships in 2007 (IM70.3) and 2009 (ITU) in the half Ironman distance. In 2009, he was also a member of Team USA (35-39) at the World Championships in Perth, Australia.

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