On a recent Monday afternoon the Makos youth swim team is practicing its freestyle strokes, swimming up and down the lanes of the YMCA, as co-coach Rainy Goodale, 42, demonstrates proper technique by making slicing motions though the air. A group of swim-capped youngsters watches, trying to learn by osmosis.
This weekend Mrs. Goodale will travel with the team to Eastham for the annual Southeastern Massachusetts Swim League distance meet. But the sport has taken her far outside the state lines of Massachusetts — to Sweden, Italy and South Korea, among other locales. It also brought her to the United States. “That’s the thing about swimming. You get to go places,” Mrs. Goodale said during an interview earlier this month.
Mrs. Goodale grew up in Indonesia, began swimming competitively at age eight, and was soon working with the national swim team. By her teens, she was representing Indonesia in international meets, including the Southeast Asia Games, and training in California for the 1986 Asian Games. The Asian Games are similar to the Olympics, and are organized by Asia’s Olympics committee. Indonesia is one of seven countries to participate in every iteration of the contests, and has won 391 medals since 1951. The 1990 games were held in Seoul.
After competing in the Asian Games (Indonesia did not win a medal in swimming), Mrs. Goodale was tapped by the Indonesian Swimming Federation to receive a four-year scholarship for study in the United States. She initially thought the scholarship would be to continue swimming. In a way, it was.
“Instead [of competing], I got sent to [learn] coaching in Alabama, of all places,” she said, laughing. “I was 18.”
Mrs. Goodale stayed in Alabama for a year, studying the art of coaching and interning at Pine Crest Swim Camp in Florida, a training facility for young swimmers and future college athletes. Overall, she said, the experience was fun, but after the year passed she decided coaching was not for her.
“I was telling my mom, well, you know . . . I think I want to do something more besides just going back to Indonesia to coach,” she said. Given that the ISF had given her the scholarship with the expectation of her returning, this was a potential problem.
“Well, you know,” her mother said, “you could go to college.”
Mrs. Goodale negotiated with the ISF, which decided she could keep the scholarship since her parents wanted the college education. She gave up swimming and enrolled at Goldey Beacom College in Wilmington, Del., choosing it mostly because she knew a handful of students from high school in Indonesia. Goldey Beacom competes in NCAA Division II athletics, but “I didn’t swim there,” Mrs. Goodale said. “Just college.”
The Indonesian diaspora community proved influential in another way as well. Through a friend in Pennsylvania, she met Peter Goodale, who was attending Lehigh University. The two married, and in 2001 moved to Martha’s Vineyard so Peter could work with his parents at Goodale Construction Company. Rainy took over the bookkeeping.
Swimming remained an afterthought until the couple enrolled their two children, Renee and Robert, in swim classes at the Mansion House — at the time the only public-access pool on the Island. When the Goodales’ third child, Sara, was born in 2006, Mrs. Goodale decided to get back in the water and back into swim shape. She joined a Masters swim group on the Island, led by Leslie Craven.
Last year, the Masters group traveled to the World’s competition in Italy. Mrs. Goodale took an eighth-place finish in the 50-metre breaststroke, and tenth-place finishes in the 100 and 200-metre breaststroke races for the 40 to 44 year-old division. She also broke New England records in the 50 and the 100 races.
“I just like the challenge, I guess,” she said. “It’s nerve-racking sometimes.”
When the YMCA finally opened its doors and its pool in 2010, leading to the formation of the Makos, Mrs. Goodale found herself doing exactly what she’d backed away from — coaching. Mrs. Craven had recommended her to Makos team administrator Julian Villegas. In spite of Mrs. Goodale’s background, she felt she needed more training in the area, so she attended certification clinics, discovering more of the benefits of coaching.
“You gain the knowledge for the kids, and at the same time you can use it for yourself, which is really good” she said. “So I practice and [then] apply it to the kids.”
Her children Renee, 13, and Robert, 9, compete for the Makos. Sara is in the learn-to-swim program.
The Makos practice five times a week, and compete on the weekends, making for a full schedule by any standard. To fit in Masters practice time, Mrs. Goodale often swims at nine a.m. before going in to work.
She said she sympathizes with the older kids on the team, many of whom swim with the Makos as well as the newly-formed varsity swim team at the high school, while also juggling schoolwork. The schedule is tiring, and Mrs. Goodale and co-coach David Espindle work hard to manage competitive practices without exhausting the swimmers.
“It’s different with the starters, the beginners,” she said. “You just have to take time with them to make sure they get the stroke right.”
There will be no bad habits formed under her watch.
“I like to help out,” she said. “Teach the kids what I know.”
This article has been edited to reflect the correct ages of Mrs. Goodale's children.