You might think I dropped off the face of the planet. Grace and Sarah both swam Friday, Saturday and Sunday of their spring champs meet which was actually the same weekend that spring break started. They both had an amazing meet with impressive time drops. More importantly, so did all of the kids in the two groups they swim with. I love to see success as a group, it means the training is working! I always trust our coaches training programs – the intensity leading up to the championship up to the meet and the taper are the critical components. It’s exciting to see it come together.
We then took two weeks off from the pool. The girls spent a week at the beach with Grandma and Papa in Florida and Chris and I snuck off for a weekend away in New Orleans. It was the perfect time to get away, Maryland got a rare late March snow on the day we got out of dodge.
Last week the girls went back to school but were still out of the pool. It was really odd, we didn’t have any activities after school. We are at the pool seven days a week. Eating dinner while the sun is still shining is a rarity for us. The house was cleaner, dinners were prepared from a recipe, homework was done early and we had a lot of down time. I won’t lie. I was a calmer person. We literally had three extra hours every evening. I also was bored. Really, really bored.
When you are used to a fast pace it is hard to slow down. As much as I enjoyed the week of living like normal people I was glad it was over. We have learned to love our crazy life. My kids need the physical activity to stay sane. By day 14 they reminded me of those little bouncy balls you can buy for a quarter out of a gumball machine. Not one, more like a million. Bouncing around my house. I get it, I feel the same way after a few days of non activity – you know, swim meet weekends!
Long course season started Monday. Grace and Sarah went back to their same practice groups. Sophie will be 9 in a few weeks and is caught in between Juniors and Advanced Juniors. She did her first Advanced Juniors practice last night and quite honestly got her ass handed to her. It was a hard practice. But she didn’t give up. Later I asked her what she thought. She said it was really hard. I was very concerned it might be too much for her but Grace jumped in and asked if she wanted to go back. Sophie said, why wouldn’t I? She isn’t backing down from a challenge. And I was all set to let her. I thought I knew everything and here I am starting over.
Now I need to convince the coach to take her on. You know the one, the one I convinced to take on Sarah? Same one. He had success with her…I’m out of kids to be his project. I don’t think he is too sad…Once I have convinced him I’ll go back to being my low maintenance self. It’s his fault for being such a great coach.
That is what Sarah took off her 500 free last night. Ok, she hadn’t swam it in 18 months BUT it was still a remarkable swim. She started swimming 500 free when she was 9. I applaud her bravery and never discouraged her from doing it. I also felt guilty making other people watch it. Not really. She has been begging her coach this year to let her do it but he told her she couldn’t swim it until she fixed some things in her stroke. This coach is brilliant – he figured Sarah out pretty quickly. She did exactly what he asked and he put her in. A two-minute time drop is awesome. Aside from the luck factor of having not swam it for a while, she really did race it well. She proved herself worthy of the race – in the past she had just been willing. I admire and encourage her to swim brave.
She has decided not to swim it again for another 18 months. Another two-minute drop and she will beat Katie Ledecky. I like her reasoning.
Grace swam 500 free as well. She doesn’t like the race as much as Sarah does. She actually hates it. Love hates I think. She dropped 15 seconds in a matter of a few months. She missed her AA time by 1 second! She also beat someone who talks a lot of smack about being faster than Grace. She took her by a nice margin. It’s a great way to shut the haters up I suppose. If she really weanted to put herself out there she would take on 200 breast. I think she will be a NT forever in that one.
Sarah is at the pool right now. Think good thoughts, she has had such a great short course year and her confidence has sky rocketed. I would like this to be a great finale meet for the year.
Grace is going after the 200 fly tonight. I have butterflies for her.
Get out of my lane why don’t you babe?
As we move into the spring long course season our club has started to rearrange the groups. Kids who are going to high school will start to transition to one of the two groups intended for the kids who are no longer in middle school.
Several of the kids in the group are younger than Grace but a year ahead of her in school. Grace has an early November birthday. She started school in Ohio and the cut off was in August. In Maryland the cut off all those years ago was November 1st and as such, many parents with kids born in November pushed for their kids to start school early. It wasn’t an option for Grace. She is one of the older kids in her Grade. This had been a positive experience for her.
One of the girls who is moving up is a few weeks younger than Grace. She has been telling Grace daily that she HAS to move us. It has become annoying for Grace. Actually, it is making her mad. The kid is being quite mean about it.
Even if Grace wanted to move up, she couldn’t. Grace has one more year in middle school and can’t even get to the practice. Not that it matters. She isn’t moving up. She likes her group and wants one more year there. Grace will be 18 her senior year of swimming. She has plenty of time to be a high school swimmer. When she is in high school. I finally went to the coach and told him to put an end to it. He wasn’t too happy to hear about it.
Grace can swim in minis for all I care. But it is no ones business other than hers, mine and the coaches. This kid needs to move along. And shut her trap.
I have a dad trying to figure out which group Sophie is heading to. I’m having fun ignoring his prying questions. Next person that worries about my kids can pay my swim tab – then they can have a say.
Grace started a taper about two weeks before JO’s. I would rather spend time with a million buzzing bees than a swimmer during a taper. The first few days are fine – it usually hits around day 5. Quite literally grace did not know what to do with her pent up energy. Usually a fairly calm person, Grace spent the days leading up to JO’s talking non stop. Mostly about clothes. Can we go to the mall? Can you buy me some Vans? Do you like this shirt? Can I borrow your Lululemon pants? I need a new bathing suit for summer. Around day 5 she started doing P90X. Dad advised her not to but she couldn’t help herself. Swimmers are true endorphin junkies. I now know why they say swimmer for life. They don’t know how not to swim hard.
Fortunately the taper paid off. The kids in Grace’s group all did really well at the meet. Grace had a solid swim in 100 back and then took off 3 seconds. In February she had shaved off a little over 3.5 seconds – since January she has dropped 6.5 in her 200 back. She was slightly disappointed to not make finals but next year she should do exceptional at the meet.
She is swimming 7 more events this coming weekend at our championship meet. The kids aren’t allowed to swim events they qualified for at JO’s. Grace is seeded first in several events having just barely missed the JO times. I am hoping that we can survive one more week of easy practice. She seems to have quiet down some which scares me. Perhaps lethargy is setting in!
Sarah is also swimming this weekend. I’m hoping her streak of amazing swims continues. I would love to see her get a JO cut for next year to boost her confidence.
This will be my final meet with double sessions. Oh, hold you applause. I will have triple sessions from here on out. Sophie will be the big 0-9 in April.
After this weekend the girls head to Florida for a visit with Grandma and Papa. Chris and are sneaking off to New Orleans for a few days. And then we begin long course!
Sarah played in a soccer tournament this past weekend. We had committed her as a “guest” player for a team of kids comprised largely of girls from our summer swim team prior to her being diagnosed with severe inflammation in her Achilles’ tendon. She knew these would be her final few games until next fall when we could have her feet and ankles reevaluated by our orthopedic specialist.
Sarah wasn’t able to practice with these girls prior to the tournament. I never thought to ask the single most important question, the position they needed her to play. As fate would have it, they needed her on defense, a position I don’t recall her ever playing.
Aside from the fact that it was miserably cold, it was fun to watch her play. The kids and parents were very welcoming. She knew the coach and his daughter very well so she felt very comfortable with them. Sarah took on her position as if it were second nature. She communicated well with the other players. She played with heart and sole and a whole lot of scrappy. I hadn’t seen her this relaxed on the field in well over a year.
Even though Sarah loved her old soccer coach and team, it also had become a stressful environment. There was a lot of pressure on the kids. By the coach, the other kids and by the parents. Too much by the parents. They all envision their kids future collegiate soccer players. I saw them as a nice average group of kids. Which is why I suppose we didn’t fit in all the time.
Sarah has always been nicknamed scrappy. It suits her well. This past weekend was no exception. I’m proud of her for not being intimidated playing a new position and for working hard as an individual player and in an unfamiliar team environment. I saw her having fun. Something she hadn’t done with soccer in a long while. Well done Sarah. Well done. Lets put the cleats away now and get you better. And maybe consider defense in the future. She was a natural at it.
Yesterday, Grace swam 100 Backstroke at JO’s. She had a great swim – knocked off 2 seconds which moved her up 34 places. Grace is a pro at big meets. Generally I drop her off at the door for meets but this time she parked with me. Good thing too, the meet was at University of Maryland and I couldn’t remember where the parking deck was. She, of course, knew exactly where it was. Six hours later she got a good laugh when I got turned around and we ended up in a dead-end parking lot. Sometimes I swear she is smarter than me. I glanced at her on deck as she was preparing to warm up and I was struck by how similar Sophie looks to her. The older Sophie gets the more I see Grace in her. For some reason today though I saw Grace’s eight year old self on deck. I think it was her smile. While grown up, she is still a little girl.
Last weekend after Sophie’s meet, Grace reminded me that when she was 8 I HATED swimming. I stopped her. I am not sure hate is a strong enough word for how I felt about swimming. I laughed and told the tale of the last meet I went to for two years. Grace was not quite 8. Sarah 5 and Sophie was 2.5. Like idiots, we decided the whole family should watch Grace swim, the meet was at our home pool – close to home.
I over estimated the entertainment value of swim meets and under estimated the need for entertainment and snacks for Sarah and Sophie. In fact, I brought none. I over dressed for the meet, assuming that since it was cold outside I would need to wear heavy clothing. Chris being the swim dad that he is – immediately volunteered to time. Leaving me with two small children, no cash or heat sheet and wisely no car keys – I would have bolted had transportation been available.
It was the longest 3 hours of my life. If you have even taken small children to a meet you understand how I felt. If you have ever been kicked by a bored, hot, hungry small child you also understand. It was miserable and I missed all of Grace’s swims, I had no idea what she was swimming, let alone heat or lane.
I didn’t go to another swim meet for two years. It was that bad. Before you judge me, I went to soccer games, Girl Scout camping trips and was room moms. I just was noticeably absent from swim meets. So was Grace. She didn’t compete at an indoor meet for nearly two years. During that period we joined a summer swim team. A few things happened. I learned about swimming and came to understand it. My kids also got older and more manageable. By the time Grace returned to year round competition I was a full-blown swim mom. I actually enjoy going to meets.
As I looked on deck yesterday and saw Grace I was overwhelmed with a sense of pride. She has great coaches and wonderful friends. We swim in a very supportive environment and it makes life so much better. Grace tends to get very serious during meets but yesterday she was being goofy and having fun. It reminded me of someone I used to know…her 8 year old self. I am glad that she has matured but also love the playful side of her. She is still a kid at heart.
This weekend was our local Mini Champs meet. Sophie got it in her head that this was her farewell tour. She ages up in April – this was not only her final mini meet but the final mini meet for our family. We have had a “mini” for 8 consecutive years.
I wasn’t going to the meet Saturday – dad was going, I had to work. After teaching two classes I was besieged by mommy guilt and decided to go. Any sense of melancholy over this being our babies last mini meet was immediately squashed upon arrival at the pool. The parking lot was full. After parking and taking a long hike to the pool I remembered why I don’t like mini meets! The older kids generally have one parent spectating. The 8 and under crew brings every relative in a 100 mile radius. The parking lot may have been at capacity – the pool was beyond capacity. I was very grateful that I was volunteering on deck the following morning as a lane checker. Sophie had three very consistent swims, she took a few seconds off her IM – despite losing her goggles on the dive.
Day two we were sure to get to the pool plenty early. Sophie asked to be dropped at the door. It almost made me sad, up until now she had always wanted to walk in with me.
Turns out lane checking is even worse than sitting in the hot crowded stands. Cat Herding is an easier task than Kid Herding! I had several criers, a hyper ventilator, two over bearing coaches and no less than ten kids who weren’t sure of their first or last name. I asked “are you Anna” and got the sweetest reply. She said “no, my name is Anna”. Got it. And I picked this week to give up wine?
Sophie swam fly in the A relay and earned a nice fists place medal. She had another day of consistent swimming. A few small time drops, earning three medals and two ribbons. All I had hoped for was that she didn’t tank at her last hurrah as a mini.
When we walked out the door I was immediately regretful for complaining about the early warm ups. We were out by noon and greater by a beautiful spring day. My baby girl and I skipped to the car. We celebrated with a lunch date – just the two of us. We then went for a hike, ending the hike at out favorite winery. The kids ran around and played soccer with other kids. This also ended my ban on wine, some days are meant for a nice glass of wine with friends.
I thought I would be sad. I wasn’t. I am proud of how far Sophie has come. She is no longer that little girl who cried before meets and needed her hand held in the parking lot. She is competitive, strong and most importantly -happy – in the pool! Bye bye minis. We are outta here!
I was talking to a group of moms the other night at the pool and a friend slid me a cook book I had asked to borrow – it had some great nutritious and healthy recipes I wanted to look at. It didn’t take long for the conversation to turn to why I was borrowing the book.
My response was simple. I put my family on a diet.
The word diet has apparently become taboo where children are concerned judging by the looks on the faces of a few of the moms. I never got that memo. They were shocked. Maybe even horrified.
I’m unapologetic. I work in a gym, am fit and a healthy weight. But my diet has gradually turned to crap. Literally. We eat crap…We are busy. I swear kids in sports eat worse than kids who are home more. I barely have time to shop for food, let alone cook it. I am guilty of doing everything I said I would never do. We eat out, frozen meals and pizza. I somehow convinced myself this was ok. We were eating the good crap.
My youngest carries belly weight. It isn’t baby fat anymore. It is the chips with cheese and salsa. Plain and simple.
The worst part is – I know better. I know exactly what to feed myself and my kids. But I don’t. I am not proud of that.
I revamped our diet. Eating healthy has a reputation for being expensive. It isn’t. The food I have been buying lately- the good food – isn’t cheap. But neither was the junk food. Feeding my family at Chipotle is an easy $50. After two weeks I actually found that I spent less by cooking food with simple ingredients. Two of my kids haven’t complained at all. Grace even commented that she preferred everything I have cooked in the past few weeks over what we have eaten in the past. Sophie loves healthy food. She also loves the junk. Sarah is struggling. But I give her mad props for trying. She is a work in progress.
The unexpected results? I have lost 4 of the extra 5 pounds that I have been carrying around for the past two years. I am sleeping great and feel fantastic.
I don’t know why it would be considered a bad thing to put my family on a diet. I suspect there must be a more politically correct term for it. I am not interested in what that may be. I am only interested in keeping this up. It isn’t easy but it also isn’t that hard.
On the way home from practice Sarah wanted to know when they would be done eating this healthy stuff. My work here has just begun.
Like most of the East Coast we are expected to get a “school halting” snow tonight, well into tomorrow morning. Most of my friends are hoping for the snow. I need new friends.
I don’t mind when the kids are home, mine are finally at the self sufficient stage of life. They sleep in and make their own breakfast. I haven’t trained them to clean up yet. Baby steps.
If my kids are going to get a bonus day off why can’t it be 70 degrees and sunny? That sounds perfect to me. Snow day? Painful. I don’t like snow. I am not afraid to say it. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone.
I’m the mom everyone judges. We don’t flush ice, sleep with a spoon or wear our pajamas backwards as kids seem to believe will magically ensure school will be cancelled. My girls are staying up late and watching dance moms. The later I let my kids stay up the more likely we are to have school. Next week my friends won’t be able to eat soup for lack of spoons and my kids all night bender on a school night will be but a distant memory.
As a yoga instructor people often tell me they find yoga boring. My smart ass retort? There is something wrong with us if we won’t allow ourselves to be bored from time to time. I like to explore my boredom on a warm beach. Not on my couch.
It doesn’t look good. The upside? I can sit around all day in my Lululemon yoga pants all day. That will give me a little status quo in my day. Namaste. Let it snow.
Day two with the teenager was a walk in the park. It was just last year that I was always nervous when she swam. Up until recently Sarah didn’t really care about swimming, she just did it for the socializing and she enjoyed the exercise. Sophie was 7…if we could get through a meet with her with no tear we considered it a success. The tide has shifted and all three girls are very focused on their races and success in the pool.
This isn’t to say I don’t care about Grace’s swimming any more. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am in awe of her dedication and focus to the sport. She has been swimming consistently since she was 6. It hasn’t come easy to her all the time either. She has weathered unpredictable coaches, long plateaus and years of girl drama. And still loves it.
Grace is becoming a young woman. She used to need pumping up before meets and lots of encouragement. She has found that inner fight on her own. As well as inner peace.
Going into this meet she only had one JO cut and about 7 she was close to. She had to pick five events and struggled with which five to choose.
During the morning session she swam 50 and 200 free. While she didn’t make the JO cuts she took time off in both events and was pleased with her results. After a quick rest at home we went back to the pool – stopping at Starbucks for her “go-go juice” – some kind of soy vanilla frozen thing. She was concerned about how she would do in the afternoon session, she had 200 IM, 200 Back and 100 fly in pretty rapid succession. Her coach and her dad suggested scratching one of the events. She was furthest from the JO time in 100 fly but it was the last event and the one she most wanted to swim.
My advice is always different. I am not a swimmer – I was in sales in my professional career. My motto? Simple, throw a lot of shit against the wall and see what sticks. Simply put, swim your heart out in all three races and see what happens.
Her IM – the race she debated scratching was awesome. She only needed to take off a second for the JO cut. All was going well until she hit breaststroke. I think she was tapering or something. Not her best performance. She added a second.
This is when I usually get really nervous. But I didn’t. Her next race was 200 back and I knew she would get the JO time. She had swum it twice recently, once getting an oops DQ and once slipping on her start. She had run through her excuses and it was time to swim it well. And she did, taking of almost 4 seconds and getting her time.
She warmed down for 6 minutes and was back on the block for 100 fly. She had a great swim, took off enough time to qualify for Dolan but missed JO’s. And just like that we were out of there.
She was thrilled with her swims. Having two JO times she gets her bag tag and t-shirt but also gets to swim at Spring Champs. She swims great when rested and is excited about both meets.
After the meets they get a two-week break and we head into LC season. Grace loves long course and is excited for the change of pace. The car ride home was lively conversation. About shopping. Teenagers are great. Did I just say that?