flylikeagirl

Crazy Swim mom

Whose birthday is it?

Only the die hard swim at 5:30 AM.  Only the dedicated swim on a holiday.  And the crazy?  They swim at 5:30 AM on the 4th of July in a steady, cold rain.  My kids were none too happy that today wasn’t the day we “accidentally” missed our alarm.

Photo: You might be a badass if you swim in the rain on the 4th.

It is a tradition in our club that birthdays are celebrated with Donuts.  I saw it fitting that today after practice the kids had donuts.  Many of them were confused, knowing it wasn’t Sarah or Sophie’s birthday.  A few understood right away, some as they were leaving.

 

Kelly Hoffman Elliott's photo.

And some?

Photo: It's a Swim, Eat, Sleep kind of dayIt was going to take a long nap.

Happy Birthday to our Independence.  Hope you all have a happy 4th of July!

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The crack of dawn

Last Friday morning I was awakened by the most glorious sunlight streaming in my bedroom window.  I could hear birds chirping.  For half a second I thought I was dreaming.  And they panic hit.  My heart rate soared and I grabbed my phone.  I had ten missed texts.

“where are you”
“are you up”
“we are outside”
“are you alive”
“hello”
“hello?”…”hello?”…”hello?”…”hello?”…”hello?”…

Because the girls swim at different pools we have an elaborate carpool system set up.  Not ONE but TWO people had come to our house at 5AM to get my girls (remind me to fire Teddie as a watchdog) – we not only slept through our alarm but also people beating on our door and ringing our bell.

After the panic subsided I was hit with another wave of it.  I was responsible for bringing three kids home from the practice Sarah and Sophie attend.  I knew that it was game over for Sophie, she needs a solid 15 minutes to get up and doesn’t do well with any variation of the schedule.  Grace’s practice was too far away for me to get her to it.  So I drug Sarah, half asleep to the car.  She put her suit on in the car, all the while crying because she was hungry, had to pee, had not brushed her teeth and was going to be embarrassed for being 30 minutes late.  Me?  I hadn’t had a drop of coffee, the car needed to use autopilot, I was in uncharted territory driving without caffeine.   I did a rolling stop in front of the pool and told Sarah to use the restroom and then race downstairs.  I would park and come apologize to the coaches.

By the time I had parked, Sarah was back at the door.  Tears streaming down her face.

“Mom, you are at the WRONG pool”….

At this point, I couldn’t torture her anymore.  I took her back home, told her to go back to bed and made a pot of coffee.  I filled my 20 OZ Hello Kitty Tervis Tumbler with coffee and raced to the correct pool to bring my carpool kids home.  When I walked in I saw panic on the coaches faces as they scanned the pool wondering where my kids were.  By 8AM I was in full blown “worse day ever” mode.

An intense workout at the gym helped soften the blow and I then took the girls to lunch and shopping for birthday presents for dad.  We had a quiet dinner at home and by 8PM all peace was restored.  (A glass of wine also helped).

At the swim meet the next day my girls were on fire.  They all swam really well.  I was asked in front of the coach what they did differently to which I laughed and said “they skipped practice yesterday”.  The coached joked that I shouldn’t tell people that.  I was then asked what they had for breakfast.

Yeah, they had donuts.

We all have our moments.  And everything is always fine in the end…Glad to have worst day ever over.  (#136 worst day ever)

I feel the need for speed.

Or to slow down.  Maryland State Champs was a few weeks ago.  It is a long course meet that is close to home and held out and outdoor pool.  I enjoy being outside for meets, all of our summer meets are held at our door pools but most PVS meets are not only indoors but most of the facilities are terrible.

Grace already has three zones cuts and Sarah had one.  Sophie had not swam her best events (50 and 100 fly) in a long course meet.  I was optimistic she would make both of them at this meet.

Grace’s expectations were low for this meet.  Her coach does not taper them for this meet.  As a matter of fact, they had an early morning practice the day the meet started.  This is uncharted territory for us, I’m having a hard time going to a meet with the expectation that she won’t do well.  I need to get used to it, this seems to be the norm amongst high school swimmers swimming in the National Training Group with our club.  She did hammer out an impressive 50 free, which made me hopeful for her first tapered meet.  I’m anxious for that meet, I miss the glory days of dropping time and I know Grace does too!

Sarah and Sophie both had a great meet, dropping time in all of their swims.  Sophie got her 100 fly zone cut and missed the 50 by a few tenths of a second.  She swam both races in the slowest heat and pulled out a second and a fifth place finish.  I can’t wait to see her race these with some competition.  Sarah was a top contender in several events over the weekend.

I was doing the meet solo, Chris was out of town helping his mother out.  I thought it was going to be a painful weekend but it turned out great.  I spent some time with friends and got a great tan.  It was a fun weekend.

My fun was short lived, a week after the meet I got three speeding tickets in the mail – violations captured by a speed camera.  I thought the speed limit was 35.  It is not.  It is 25.  The weekend was costly, we now have three girls going to zones and I have three tickets to pay.  I’m taking a cab next time I go to that pool.

This is a fun photo from the weekend, Sophie’s coach is the goofball in the lower right corner and Sophie is the big mouth next to them.  She is an amazing coach that never lets these girls forget that swimming is FUN!  We love her.

It’s game time…

Memorial Day Weekend is something I always look forward to. Summer is my favorite time of the year, I love the hot weather and having the kids home from school.

We decided to kick off our summer with a two night camping trip to the Shenandoah Mountains – away from the hustle and bustle, no showers no phone service. Aside from the natural beauty that was surrounding us, one of the very first things we discovered was that there really are bears in the mountains. I won’t lie, I was a little nervous, seeing a bear immediately upon entering the park. Luckily, that was our one and only visit from a bear. Our best friends came, this was our third camping trip with them. Chris’ brother’s family also joined us and they were a great addition to our trip.

We made it back early on Sunday. Monday we made our annual pilgrimage to the “pool opening”.  I’m thrilled that despite all of the time we spend at the pool, my kids still love going.

Summer marks a crazy time for us, the girls club swim and swim with their summer team.  We have weekly summer league meets, along with several club long course meets.

Despite the madness I love it.  As we finish out our school year I definitely feel like I am in “Ready, Set, Go” mode.  Let the fun begin.

The competition is good?

As much as I like Long Course season, it also comes at a time when parents and kids are running out of steam.  After a long winter, the weather is finally nice.  The kids would prefer to be outside with their friends over swimming laps at an indoor pool.  Parents are getting tired of the countless trips to the pool and quite honestly, I wouldn’t mind sitting on a deck sipping a margarita on a nice evening.  End of the year activities are ramping up at school, as are exams.  Summer can’t get here soon enough.

Many kids who can normally handle the competitive aspect of swimming are now cracking under the pressure of it.  Kids who have just aged up are upset because they aren’t making the qualifying meets they went to in their younger age groups.  I have seen many swimmers post best times and get out of the pool in tears because they were beat by friends.  Having been through the ups and downs of swimming, I’m very grateful that my girls are all top of their age group through summer season and have the qualifying times they need.  Everything they add on top is a bonus.  Grace is soon to leave the world of age group swimming, becoming a “senior” swimmer.  I had to explain to Sophie that it didn’t mean Grace would be swimming against her dad, an old dude in her book.

Sophie and I had a conversation recently about one of her friends who is really struggling with her friends posting better times than she does, despite the fact that she consistently gets best times based on her own swims.  Sophie said it better than I ever could.  She said “swimming is a competitive sport.  It’s what you sign up for.  You have to expect the competition and keep working harder”.

Having just swam 200 fly Long Course as a 10 year old and crushing it, Sophie was in fact beat by another 10 year old.  By nearly ten seconds.  Sophie said “you know what?  I’m glad that “T” beat me.  Had she not, I would have probably thought I was the best.  I’m not.  I also know I can do better because she did”.

Isn’t that just the most amazing way to view competition?  As a testament to what is possible?  I sit and watch “T” swim in awe.  She is so fast.   I think to myself “when does she age up?  what does she eat for breakfast?  how often does she train?”  And Soph is thinking, “yep, I can do that too, I just need to work harder”.  My 10 year old is smarter than I am.  (Of note, Sophie has been recognized by several coaches and a few friends for working harder in practice the last few weeks).

We just had a child leave our club because the parents were unhappy.   They wanted their child to be the best in the group and get extra attention and it wasn’t happening.  I don’t understand that mentality.  There shouldn’t be a “star” in swimming, especially at a young age.

The strong survive the competition of this sport.  Strong heart, strong head, strong body.  (And mom needs a margarita from time to time…)

Win, lose or draw

That is how I feel about swim meets. With three girls swimming we rarely win. A win for me means that all three girls do well. Lose? All three leave in tears. More often than not the meets are a draw. Between the three girls we can count on some great swims, a few good, mediocre and even a bad swim here and there. It happens.

I really like long course season. It’s a shorter season for us – 4 months long. The timing of the season is great too. After 8 months of short course the kids have usually squeezed the most out of their times. There are only 4 long course meets and the kids usually find success in each of them.

We went into the first long course meet with three different strategies. Grace’s coach opted to swim her off events. Sarah’s coach went with her best events. Sophie’s chose races that he thought she could see some improvement in. All three strategies were brilliant.

Grace has always been a backstroker. Lately it has been her nemesis. She didn’t swim it. She swam fly and free with a 200 breast thrown in to torture her. Given the fact she has never swam the 200 breast (and hoped she never would) it was a guaranteed best time. In the end, she didn’t drown and she had five great swims. She went into the meet pretty beat up and sore from the last few weeks practice and was able to squeeze out some good swims. I am confident that she will benefit from a summer of challenging practices and a good taper. She came into the season with three zones cuts. I’m optimistic she will get many morning and hopeful for a few sectional cuts.

Sarah, who up until three months ago, had never made Junior Olympics, decided to set her sights a little higher. She wanted a zones qualifying time this long course season. She did it the easy way, rather than spending the whole season wondering if she would get the time, she made her first cut at the first meet. She is certainly setting herself apart as a true competitor. My husband always said that if her talent were to ever catch up with her drive….watch out world. Her talent is shining through now.

Sophie just turned 10 so long course is still really new to her. I think the pool looks huge, I can’t imagine being 10. She isn’t the least bit intimidated by it. She did really well on all of her swims and came close to a few zones times. She didn’t swim 50 or 100 fly, two races she should get the qualifying time in. She will swim those in a few weeks. She did swim 200 fly. Yes, 200 fly long course. Less than a month after turning 10. And she rocked it. She also rocked a few kids world. She swam faster than a few 16 year olds. Most importantly, her very last stroke was as beautiful as the first! I was worried she would DQ it! Instead she made the 12 and under JO cut and is the 4th fastest 10 year old in the country according to USA Swimming. I recognize that not a lot of 10 year olds swim that race. But Sophie does. (She also admitted to liking it!).

In the end, it was a great meet. All three girls did really well! I was proud of them, their hard work is paying off.

April showers

Brings long course season. The girls are always happy for the change.

Speaking of change, both Grace and Sarah have changed groups. Sarah moved into what was once called “Grace’s group”. We now call it by its rightful name NDG’s. Grace made the decision to move into the National Training Group. This was not an easy decision for her, she has been debating where she wanted to swim (group, location and club) since September. I was prepared for her to ask to move and was somewhat surprised when she didn’t.

She had the option to “time share”. In other words, she didn’t have to jump into the new group with both feet, she could opt to practice with both groups. Grace had been with her coaches for three years and has developed a strong bond with both of them. I thought for certain that if she moved to the NTG’s she would also continue to practice with her former group.

I was wrong about that as well.

It isn’t easy for her to get to practice. It’s a high school group and she is in middle school. I pick her up from school and she heads straight to practice. She eats in the car and changes at the pool. She is accustomed to a few hours of down time between school and practice. She now has none.

She also jumped from 5 to 7 practices, all of which are more challenging. She has handled the transition with Grace and appears to be doing well. She is still unsure of the coach, he is very different from what she is used to – not necessarily a bad thing, change is good.  He may be exactly what Grace needs.

Sarah is struggling in her new group. The practices are also more challenging for her. She went from top dog to low man. Thanks to Grace though we have a great relationship with the coaches. They have both done a wonderful job keeping her motivated and encouraged. Her times at meets are amongst some of the fastest in the groups. The coaches are convinced that once she improves her conditioning she will really be amazing. It’s nice to see them believe in her.

Sophie is just thrilled to have her group all to herself! She has great friends and feels very comfortable in the group.

While it is a lot of work (driving) having the kids in three separate groups, it also is what makes the most sense. I have spent most of this year questioning if they are in the place they need to be. I’m finally confident that they are. I’m looking forward to what lies ahead.

Oh, the things you say….

Sarah is a talker.  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  I use humor in an attempt to be humble in conversation.  Sarah, she doesn’t disguise her feelings in any way.  Not even a weak attempt.

On the way to last weekends Championship Meet (JO’s) she declared she was going to make finals at the meet.  Her best shot was in 100 breast.  She was seeded 33rd and her seed time was a very recent swim.  Knowing she had the propensity to be mouthy on deck I wanted to make sure she kept her ego in check.  I decided to skip tact all together and simply said “Sarah, you are NOT going to make finals, so please watch what you say on deck”.

As the words were coming out of my mouth I wanted to shove them back in.  I immediately apologized and told Sarah that if anyone had the ability to rise to a very big challenge such as that, it was her.  I think I pissed her off.  But I’m pretty used to that.

Sarah swam a beautiful race, dropping 2.45 seconds.  I couldn’t believe it.  I sat watching the heats after hers almost in disbelief.  IF my math was correct she had placed 16th, earning her a spot in the B finals.  I kept hitting refresh refresh refresh with a finger that I could barely steady.  My math was off.  She placed 15th.  About the same time the final results were posted she materialized on deck to tell me her final time (she probably though I was too old to read the electronic score board, which I can see just fine, it is the damn heat sheet that kills me!).   I realized she didn’t know she had made finals.  The look of pure joy on her face was something I won’t ever forget.  She was elated.

She ran home and took a nap before finals.  Dad decided to bring her back to the meet – he wanted to see her swim.  I was a nervous wreck.  When my kids make finals I just hope for them to same time the race.  I would hate for them to make finals on luck.  I was lucky to be armed with meet mobile, Chris at the meet and several friends on hand to text me updates.

Sarah decided to prove herself a worthy competitor.  She dropped another second and moved up to 13th place overall.  Sarah.  Who at the age of 12 was swimming in her first ever Championship meet.  She crushed it.  Sarah, who I had to beg the coaches to take a chance on just a year ago.  Sarah.  Who doesn’t “really” like swimming.

I’m proud of her beyond words.  We don’t have the most conventional relationship.  I spend a lot of time helping her keep her foot out of her very big mouth.  And in the process, tend to swallow my foot.  I would like to say my doubt helped fuel her fire.  It didn’t.  She decided to light her own bonfire.  Watch out world.

sarah at jos

The $27,500 question.

Grace needed a new knee skin for our upcoming championship meet. She wanted an expensive one that also seemed to be out of stock every where we looked. She wisely chose to research the suit and found it on eBay. Starting bid? Half of retail. I was game.

Ironically the auction ended during a swim meet. I got roped into timing and the meet ran later than expected I put in a max bid of $250 and decided to let it ride.

Grace in a moment of weakness convinced me to increase my bid to $275. I happened to be timing the last event of the day – the boys 13 and up 50 free. I snuck in a quick bid.

Of $27.500!

Needless to say I won the suit. Fortunately it didn’t go too much higher than I had hoped to pay. The entire incident shaved a year off my life. I’ll likely obey the rules next time I time and leave my phone behind.

Now the million dollar question. Is it the clothes that make the man?

Practice got cancelled?

One of the things I love the most about our swim club is they never cancel practice.  The club we swam for a few years ago practices in a bubble.  They cancelled practice for thunder, lightening, wind, ice and snow.  I like a routine and this did not work for me.

DC metro got a pretty decent snow last week and practice was cancelled Thursday and Friday.  Unfortunate for my kids – I hate snow.  I’m not talking dislike, I am miserable when it snows.  I get offended when it touches me.

Sarah and Sophie’s coach asked that they go make a snowman and submit a photo.  He was going to have a contest for the best snowman.  I discouraged them from doing it.  An hour in the snow to me represents a load of laundry and a mopping of the entire first floor.  I bribed them with Starbucks to skip it.  In the end, Sarah was persistent and I agreed to let them do it if they were quick.

They came up with this:

Photo: We are this bored.

I don’t know yet if we won.  I somehow suspect they aren’t the only swimmers to do this.  And yes, they are wearing fins.  At least I didn’t have to do laundry.  We need to move somewhere warm.  I want a pool in my backyard – not this…

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