For the DeLoof ladies, swimming was always a family affair: all four of the sisters are proud Wolverines and competed alongside at least one other sister during their tenure as DI swimmers. It comes as no surprise that Gabby has joined the Fitter and Faster Tour after older sister Ali started leading clinics.
While sibling rivalries can cause divisions on teams, the DeLoof sisters were on the opposite end of the spectrum. On swimming with her sisters in college, Gabby says, “It was a lot of fun! We were competitive only to an extent – a fun competitive. When we are in practice, we’ll say, ‘Oh, why don’t you try beating me on this one. You’re doing so well!’ We’d tell each other, ‘This is your event. I want to beat you!’ We could joke around with each other.”
This family bond helped Gabby develop a healthy competitive mindset through training that ultimately set her on a successful trajectory. She has a passion for sharing key aspects of developing this healthy mindset so that all her participants will leave her clinics equipped to take on the inevitable challenges they will experience in their swimming careers. She shares from her own story:
I used to get down on myself for having a bad practice or thinking I didn’t try hard enough; these little things get you down and all boil up. I have learned to let it go and it’ll come together – the ups and downs come, and you have to ‘ride the pain train’ or ‘fall off the cliff’ knowing that you worked hard to get to that point. You have to be able to laugh at yourself when things go wrong and change your attitude rather than thinking negatively about it.
Coupled with a positive attitude, courage is a necessary quality of a successful swimmer. Gabby creates a safe and constructive environment for all swimmers to have the courage to step up and push themselves outside of their comfort zones:
You have to have an open mind about everything. Try new things, new drills or lifting heavier in the weight room – even if it’s going to make you sore and tired. Work on those technical things when you are tired. If you’re not doing it in practice, it’s not gonna happen in a race.
In order to push participants to buy into this growth mindset, Gabby digs deeper to figure out who they are as a person and make a personal connection. This builds a trusting relationship in which participants truly engage with what Gabby teaches, leading to many “lightbulb” moments. “I love seeing a swimmer’s eyes light up when they realize that they’ve put together what I told them to do. My favorite part is seeing them get excited about the learning experience.”
It won’t be difficult for your swimmer to relate with Gabby and bring home some nuggets of wisdom to their home teams. “I put myself in their shoes – I wasn’t the greatest swimmer growing up, so I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum and can relate. I know how hard it is to want to improve and not see any immediate results.” She also knows how to work hard and get the job done for great results down the road.
Perhaps the most powerful perspective Gabby shares about a swimmer’s identity is this: “Times don’t define you.” The numbers that flash on the scoreboard should not hold the power of your self-worth and do not reflect your personal journey. When times don’t go your way, Gabby says, “You can always work on something else during practice.” Loving the process – honing and fine-tuning the details of the catch, pull start, etc. – is necessary for long-term growth in the sport.
Above all else, Gabby preaches, “You have to have fun with it! Swimming won’t last forever, so enjoy it while it lasts. I really enjoyed swimming with my sisters and my friends. We had a very supportive community.”
Come out to Gabby’s clinics to have a blast and learn critical mental and technical skills.
“Gabby gave personal experiences of her swim life and that allowed for a close understanding of how a swimmer and her life is coordinated through the struggles and wins. Gabby helped perfect strokes and gave wonderful drills that she taught from in and out of the water to give visual helps to understand fully. Using swimmers who were able to demo the drill provided confidence to the swimmers and allowed for more visuals and teaching skills to the drills. Gabby took time to make sure everyone was able to understand the drills and repeatedly asked if anyone had any questions to make sure that everyone understood the technique. ” – Jessica Chao in Tampa, FL