Crazy Swim mom

Short list of things I need

1. More money. How can a sport that has little to no equipment cost so much? In addition to cash I’ll take hotel points, gas money and chipotle gift cards.

2. Three knee skins. Preferably the $400 ones. They all need one. I can’t type need in the right voice but you understand the need I’m talking about. And they ain’t lying. Everyone has one. Even 9 year olds that aren’t legal in freestyle. Sophie has decided she wants one and Grace and Sarah need new ones.

3: A crystal ball. I can’t ever turn my brain off. I constantly find myself concerned that I’m not doing the right thing. Or enough. Or too much. A crystal ball would sure help. That or a glass of wine.

4. An oil change. I’m a little past that number on the sticker. As a matter of fact we all know they lie and we can squeeze an extra 2k miles out of it. That being said – I need an oil change. Can we add two hours to the day tomorrow? That’s the only thing stopping me. The gas tank is also on empty. Always.

5. A nap. I could probably squeeze that in during the oil change. I won’t be too greedy. I need a shower too so I suspect no one would sit too close. The snoring shouldn’t be too annoying.

6. A proper meal. (Enough said).

7. Super glue. I seriously can’t deal with the heartbreak every time Sophie gets to a big meet, dives in and loses her goggles. I thought she was a rock star swimming her seed in 100 fly without goggles. I had to belly up to the bar at Starbucks to stop her waterworks. Double capping hurts her head. Watching her do this hurts my brain. She said she’ll do it if I buy her a knee skin. The two tone $400 model.

Did I mention money? Sponsorship? Jar of change?

It’s a family affair

This weekend is the annual National Age Group Team Challenge (NAGS) meet hosted by RMSC. This meet gathers the top 3 swimmers in events by AGE (not age group) for the top swim clubs in the area. They compete for the title of top team. This meet has been held the weekend of Grace’s birthday and as such has become her favorite meet as it is her last meet at any given age. Kids compete up to the age of 14. Unfortunately this year the calendar was not in her favor. She aged up a few days before the start of the meet. Aged up and aged out. Last year was her final year (13). Fourteen would never happen. She was slightly disappointed. Because it’s a fun meet to visit friends from all over. Friends from summer league, age group champs and zones.

Sophie made the meet in 100 fly as a 9 year old. This year she made 100 fly 200 IM and two relays. Sarah did not make the meet in years past and missed 100 breast by .1. She was fortunate though and made a relay. In other words she will get a bag tag and a t-shirt. Sad but true fact, that matters!

Because the relays are all in one session, Sarah and Sophie will both be swimming this afternoon. Sophie’s individual events are tomorrow.

Chris and I enjoy timing together at meets. We signed up to time relays. Grace signed up to collect timer sheets. This gives her on deck access, she can visit friends and be part of the action.

Since this is a scored meet team vs team I’ll be pulling for RMSC. My two swimmers both swim for RMSC. Grace likely will be cheering for her NCAP teammates. And her sisters. Maybe even some of her old teammates. I would love to say “may the best team win”. But the best team has become a relative term to me. Depends on which one of my relatives you are talking about.

I’m wearing pink. No alliances. Swim fast Sarah and Sophie. (And watch out for Grace she will totally “borrow” your t-shirts!)

One of the more notable differences

Having my girls split on two different swim teams, I keep waiting for that ah-ha moment – that one thing that I can say is totally different and unique.

I think I found it. It’s a tradition at RMSC that on your birthday parents bring donuts for the entire group to help celebrate. NCAP doesn’t do that. They bring cupcakes.

Today Grace celebrates her 15th birthday. This has been a year of transition for her – she started high school and changed swim teams at the same time. She is handling the changes well. I’m having a harder time.

I suddenly know what people mean when they tell you to enjoy every moment. Their childhood really does go in the blink of an eye. She is already talking about colleges and I find myself really upset by how quickly my oldest baby is growing up. She is a remarkable young lady and We are extremely proud of her. She is really happy and enjoys life to the fullest. I shouldn’t worry, she is going to do just fine in life.

I’m going to stop looking for that ah-ha moment. In the end, it’s just kids swimming anywhere you go. What is important is that they are happy. The moments, they go too quickly.

Next meet she will swim as a 15-18. I’m learning quickly that it’s a rough age group. Time drops stall for a while. I’m thinking of starting a support group. And when Sarah and Sophie get a little older perhaps an I told ya so group. No one believes it until it happens.

I’m holding out hope that if they are happy, the rest will come. I love you Gracieboo.

How to get kids to swim faster!

Fellow Blogger posts about how to get kids to swim faster!

Nine Tips to Push Your Swimmer to Faster Swim Times

(I know people who have tried all of these tricks…sad but true fact)


Official-ly Delusional


Love this!

Originally posted on No, Strike That:

I have three kids who swim competitively year round. My own swimming career can best be summed up as “hanging out at the neighborhood pool with my best friends Acne and Helmet Hair”. I can’t do all of the strokes. All of my children, even the 3 year old, can beat me across the length of the pool. I intend to do something about that at some point, but that point is not today.

I spend a lot of time at the various pools in our town,  both indoor and outdoor, usually in a deck chair surfing Reddit while someone else coaches my kids.  I know I’m lucky– my Facebook feed is full of my friends juggling 2-3 kids and 3-5 sports–  all I can say is “there but for the Grace of God go I.” We had a brief flirtation with soccer, but fortunately that’s behind us and I can get…

View original 1,185 more words

The swim race to everywhere…

I love social media.  I have always been active on facebook.  It’s a great way to keep up with friends and family, near and far.  It’s a great way to share photos and little snippets in to each others lives.  It has also become a great source for sharing opinion pieces.  I’m a very opinionated person myself, I’ll be the first to admit it.  But I’m also cautious with sharing it.  Especially through the use of “articles”.

Facebook has become a constant stream of sharing “articles”.  Because of this I think we have lost sight as to the difference between fact and opinion.  A recent article blowing up my media feed is about kids and sports from the Changing the Game website.  It’s a great website, as parents of children athletes we should constantly be questioning the choices we make for our kids.  Getting a lot of press is a recent post The Race to Nowhere in Youth Sports.

This piece is about kids who specialize in a sport – parents, coaches and kids are all forcing kids to specialize at an early age.  And according to this, we are ruining our children.  The article uses words like fear, this system sucks, guilt, cheating, wise up, take a stand…and guilt, guilt, guilt..

I’ll be honest with you.  I have no guilt.  My kids swim.  Every now and then they dabble in an intermural sport at the school but they swim.  Year round.  Competitive swimmers take a total of about 4 weeks a year off.  It’s a year round sport.  There are others, gymnastics, dance, figure skating and golf to name a few.  While this article doesn’t address sports that are considered year round specifically, it certainly doesn’t give them any recognition either.

My first reaction to this article was to defend the choices made by parents and children who do specialize in one sport at an early age.  Who focus on the sport as a year round endeavor.  I made a mental list of the positive aspects or this, the life lessons learned.  Or to be learned.  By the time I sat down to write about it though it didn’t seem important.  I’m tired of being judged.  And that is what all of these articles are starting to feel like to me.  Judgment.  I not only think but I OVERTHINK every single thing I do for my kids.  And you know what?  They are perfectly fine.

The greatest thing about swimming is that it isn’t a Race to Nowhere.  It’s just a race.

I know that all the things left unsaid in this post resonate with my fellow swim families.  We all seem to have the same quiet opinion.




It’s nice to be home

Pulling up to the pool for Grace’s first meet with her new team, I was overcome with a wave of emotion. I felt a little out of place, I don’t know many of the parents in her group. I do know a handful of parents from other sites but many of them weren’t at this particular meet. NCAP pulls kids from all over Maryland and Virginia, I’m not sure I will ever know too many people. RMSC is a large team but all of the kids come from Montgomery County. Having three kids in the program for many years I know (or at the very least have seen) every one at the meets. These are the same people we swim against in the summer, go to school with, see at the gym or grocery store. I’m a very social person by nature and I was definitely outside my comfort zone. I opted to time during the first session to pass the time. I wasn’t sure how Grace would react to her first meet with the new team.

She was fine. I dropped her off at the door and got a quick wave goodbye.

I parked and drank my coffee. The meet was at a pool we swam at many years ago. Grace and Sarah were just getting started in swimming and swam for a very small club. I always park in the same place at this pool. It’s a lot that is on a slight hill just above a door that grants direct pool access. Being a meet day, the door was propped wide open. Just beyond the door was the area where her old team sat.

Grace always referred to her little group as the children under the stairwell. There were never more than 15 or so kids from this club at a meet session. They certainly didn’t get choice seating. I suspect a rat or two made its way through base camp. The team was so small that they rarely had enough kids to field a 4 man relay. After a year, Grace made the decision she needed something more social. That was what led us to RMSC. It’s also what led her away this year.

I couldn’t help but remember our humble beginnings with swim. I especially had no idea what we were doing. One thing that Grace always knew – she wanted bags tags, tie dyed championship t-shirts, zones jackets, to make finals and to swim in an A relay. And to have friends. She did all of that and more.

As I walked into the meet I remembered why Grace swims. Because she loves it. It wasn’t her best meet. It also wasn’t her worst. But she had fun. And she smiled. Her swim bag zippers are covered in bag tags. She has accomplished a lot and grown into a woman in all her years of swimming. But at this meet I saw her as my ten year old baby who swam at that pool all those years ago.

The funny thing is, I always hated that pool. And I found myself walking in with a smile. Maybe it is because I don’t know anyone. It was kind of fun to sit alone. In silence. And in thought. It felt like home. For Grace.

The Conundrum

USA Swimming just posted a fantastic article:

Mike Gustafson: Lighten Up, Swim Parents!

I would recommend reading the whole article but in short, the message is loud and clear:

The thing is: Critiquing is not a parent’s job — at least when it comes to swimming. Critiquing is the coach’s job. 

That’s why coaches exist. 

For some of us (me) this is easy.  My lack of knowledge about swimming is a plus, I have a very un-trained eye.  I’m also an optimist by nature.  Being an optimist is a good quality most of the time but we also tend to be missing a little of reality.  I’m fortunate to be married to Mr. Reality Check.  He keeps me on the straight and narrow.

It’s really hard for parents who know swimming not to critique (critique sounds so much nicer than criticize) their children’s performance.  I would almost say it is impossible.  It’s a challenge that many swim families are faced with.

Our family is a work in progress.  I’m trying to be more realistic about their swimming.  It’s not adorable when Sophie does butterfly kick during free sets at practice.   Being sweet does not excuse sitting out a set.  And cute gets you nothing.  Swim dad is going to chose his words carefully.  Delivery and execution of critique is going to be a huge factor at our house.  But it is impossible for him to UN-see the things he sees.  He knows what he is watching.  It’s unrealistic to just watch every race in awe.

Regardless, every message that we deliver matters.  The most important message is that we care.  The coaches need to coach and we need to care.

Grace’s meet starts tomorrow.  I’m going to time during her session.  And take her to Chipotle when it is over.  Smiling.  And I hope she is too.

Exhale, exhale, inhale

The first short course meets of the season are usually great. The kids haven’t swam short course since March. Huge time drops, especially for the younger children are almost guaranteed. The kids are always excited to see their friends from other sites. The parents are usually on their best behavior. Because the kids are happy!  Seriously, happy kids always means happy parents.  I have tried the reverse, being happy mom and it doesn’t always produce happy kids. But I digress..

Sarah and Sophie both swam last weekend.  They were no exception to the rule.  They both swam really well.  I had promised this season that I was going to focus less on times and more on quality swimming.  If I am being completely honest – it’s easier said than done.  The first weekend in November, RMSC hosts a National Age Group meet.  The three fastest swimmers for several area (MD, DC and DE) clubs compete against one another.  The October meet is the only time they can qualify.  It’s a challenge – you have to pick events wisely and swim them well.  Swimming well in this case means fast – not pretty.  They only do 100’s at this meet so it really is a crap shoot.

Sophie made this meet last year.  She was a shoe in for 100 fly this year.  She didn’t disappoint.  She had six great swims and easily qualified for that, a relay or two and perhaps one other event.  Sarah was a wild card, she was seeded well on 100 breast but has never made the meet.  She swam 50 breast the first day and won it.  The top 6 were all seeded with in .2 of each other and Sarah was seeded 6th.  That isn’t important.  She took off quite a bit of time and came so close to the quad A cut.  That also doesn’t matter.  It was a remarkable swim- almost perfect.  The second day of the meet she swam really well.  Her 100 breast was really nice and again she dropped a nice bit of time.  She came in 4th for her age at the NAG’s meet.  She missed it by .1

It’s really hard to focus on quality swimming when these kids are trying to qualify with times or places.  Sarah was disappointed which made me sad.  She swam 6 events this meet and it was truly the best I have ever seen her swim.  In her heart she knew she did well but it was still a disappointment for her.

The good news is she will swim the A 200 medley relay.  Rumor has it that there may be a scratch in 100 breast but even if there isn’t she get the shirt, she gets the bag tag.  And she gets to say “I swam well!”.

The highlight of the meet was absolutely seeing her 50 breast.  She ages up in late November and that event will go away for her.  She may give that quad A cut another shot in early November.  She may not.  Either way, she is ready to take her swimming to the next level.  The next best thing?  Watching Sophie swim 200 IM.  She proved to me that she has worked hard thus far.  Breast and back have always been tricky for her and she looked great in both.

I can take two big exhales, Sarah and Sophie delivered on their promises.  Well executed races.  I’m proud.

Grace swims this weekend.  I took a great big inhale this year with her.  And I have been holding my breath ever since.  I’m ready for that final exhale.

Not one of my better ideas

This has been a particularly crazy week. Grace is in high school this year and has fully embraced homecoming week. She spent all day Sunday helping decorate the freshman hallway for spirit week. She also decided to play powder puff football so had a few practices and a game last night. Sarah had a cross country meet Tuesday (she came in 3rd, not too shabby for a kid that is “only” a swimmer” and had a school event last night. We have also had a full schedule of swim practice for all three girls. First meet of the season is this weekend.

This weekend doesn’t get any better. Friday night is the homecoming game. Sarah and Sophie are also swimming 500 free. Saturday morning we have a bar mitzvah service to attend, two sessions of a swim meet and an early morning practice for Grace. The evening will be just as busy – we will be attending the bar mitzvah reception and Grace has her first homecoming dance. Sunday is easy. Only two sessions of a swim meet.

Recently my crazy swim schedule was featured in the October issue of Real Simple magazine, along side a great article about kids with talent. I couldn’t help but notice the irony of a magazine devoted to making life more simple was showcasing the life of a swim mom. The reality is, we need to simplify other aspects of our lives, being a swim family is complicated enough. It was also great to see two swim families high lighted in the article, swimming is often over looked as a sport, favor is often given to sports such as soccer and football – they are more familiar to a broad base.

I decided to do a little simplifying tonight. I kept Sarah and Sophie home from swim practice. I felt that a nice family dinner and some quality rest would make this crazy weekend a little more tolerable. Grace and I are settling in, we go to bed early on Thursday night knowing we have a 4 am wake up call for practice. My other two monkeys are climbing the walls. I’m about to send them out for a run. Swimmers need to swim. They can’t handle not being active. Keeping them out of the water tonight was a very bad idea. I know better.

Tomorrow starts a new season for us. Grace’s first meet is the following weekend. Best of luck to all this season. I hope for fast times and more importantly happy kids.

Make sure to pick up the October Issue of Real Simple to read the full article.


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