The Asses of Swimming

No, not the jackasses.  Trust me that will come soon but I am going to make you wait a bit on that, you are going to have to get to know me first.

People, for the love of god, before you go to a swim meet PLEASE sit in a chair bend forward and the take ONE hand back to the base of your spine and feel if your freaking ass crack and or thong is hanging out.  If it is change your fucking clothes.  I don’t want to look at that for three straight hours!  It gets hot in there and I really don’t need to see your sweaty ass crack.

I saw a dude in overalls once at a meet.  While it is certainly isn’t a fashion mistake I would make, it sure does eliminate the risk.

I came up with an idea once at a swim meet.  We could surgically implant a small hook about three inches above the tailbone (right about where you got your tramp stamp 18 years ago).  Jeans could be outfitted with a small eye clasp.  When hook and eye join up, presto magico, no more nasty ass crack.

We could even go all fancy which would blend nicely with that lovely tramp stamp

Get Your own Damn Ride

Everyone needs one, has one or used to have one – a carpool.

If you don’t have a carpool yet, get one.   Swimmers swim.  A lot.  Unless you can walk to the pool from your house (and if you plan to sell it, call me) there is no way you want to spend this much time at a pool.  It is hot, humid and the same damn people are there every single day.  With the same bratty non swimming siblings who run up and down the freaking hallway because they are bored out of their minds.  You can read, provided you can find a nice quiet place but most of these people never shut up.  I don’t.   Find a carpool.  Get the swim taxi magnet.  It is hysterical.  For a week.

Now you have a carpool.  Instead of listening to the adults who talk incessantly about their swim stars, the car is now filled with the mindless ranting of  7 kids aged 9-12.  They scream, they sing “I am sexy and I know it” and they talk about themselves non-stop.  They destroy your car with Gatorade spills and Power Bar mashed into the seats.  They chant McDonald’s over and over on the way home until the car drives itself through the drive through because it can’t take it anymore.  You begin premixing cocktails before you leave the house so you can start the Vodka drip the minute you get home.  The carpool has to end.

If you are smart, you will end yours by changing swim teams and not telling anyone!  Driving to the pool seven days a week is complete bliss when the only kids fighting in the car belong to you.   Keep the magnet, you earned it.  The hard way.

None of this applies if you are able to negotiate a carpool which I have coined “the Allison”.  “the Allison” mom has a master’s degree in  logistics and is able to mastermind a carpool in which her car remains in the garage seven days a week.  She doesn’t even know where the pool is.  “the Allison” will always have a leg of the carpool which she is able to get out of at a moments notice!  If you have worked the carpool gods such that you don’t do a thing, pat yourself on the back.  Bold and clever move.

(names have been change to protect the greedy who make me drive their kids everywhere!)

Chosing a Team

There are many swim team options out there. They all cost way too much and each of them is better than the next – just ask them. We have opted to try them all. We have swim team confusion and are equal opportunity swimmers, sharing the Elliott love with everyone. Plus you never know when Consumer Reports will call and I feel like I could do one hell of a pros and cons piece on swim teams.

When you chose your first team, you really need to base your decision on the suits they wear. Bottom line, they need to be cute. After a year you will realize that while your child is arguably the cutest child to grace a pool deck, that they are a terrible swimmer.

There may not be a compulsory score in swimming but a good luck dance never hurts!

This is where your really journey begins. In the heat sheet at the next meet, you should highlight the names of the teams with kids with beautiful strokes. A pattern will emerge and the technique based team will be clear to you (what you will not see is that the kids on this team can’t win a race any longer than a 50). You will immediately move your children to this team. Undoubtedly, it will cost more and you will pass no less than five pools that host swim teams on your way to this team’s practice site but it will be well worth it because you now realize that swimming, much like dancing is an art and should be performed with elegance, grace and precision. You will spend your next two years here. No more no less.

Year one is tear down. Your little dumpling no longer has the 5th fastest backstroke in the county…..nope, it is now the worst. Fast no longer counts, it is all making it look good. They don’t rotate their shoulders properly, not enough kick and head is the absolute wrong position. You will spend the entire year praising the coaches for saving your child from potentially drowning in the middle of a race because their right hand will inevitably end up in their left ear and they legs will get tangled in the lane ropes. Their technique is just that bad.

Year two, your future Wheaties endorser will start to put that technique to good use and may actually start swimming a little faster. Once they have a few meets under their suit in this season, they will suddenly be swimming well again. BUT, and this is where things start to go south, their technique will start to suffer. And every practice will be 100% devoted to fixing all of the flaws. Future Ms. Wheaties will start looking like Ms. Dunkin Donuts as they start chubbing up from the complete and total lack of exercise they are getting at practice. Half laps will become quarter laps and then practice will actually become a lecture series taught at a desk with a dry erase board, detailing the exact moment and angle the right thumb should first enter the water. You slowly realize your kid can’t even complete a 100 anymore.

AND THEN. They can’t swim at all. They suffer from a medical condition that I call “swimmers block”. (I have an advanced medical degree from Web MD and Google). In other words, paralysis of the stroke sets in and so much thought goes into every movement in the water that the swimmer no longer can move with any acceleration. All strokes literally look like treading water. Year two involves a lot of tears, both child and mother. This is the point where the coaches begin to hate said mother because she is a neurotic lunatic. Unlike when she was pregnant, this is a fact mom will not protest.

Mom then spends the entire summer not sleeping, instead staring at the ceiling weighing the strengths and weaknesses of the FIVE area swim teams. She will develop bags under her eyes and carpal tunnel from spending so much time researching her “options”. Research should be done on all pools within a 1000 mile radius. A move is not out of the question. The nice thing about a move is it gives you a great reason to break up with your old team. Less messy.

September finally rolls around and the family piles in the minivan (aka swim taxi) and does the evaluation for the new team. Mom chews her nails down to the quick and the kids swim their butts off in order to impress the new judges. I forgot to mention that right before you “audition” for a new team it makes sense to feed the kids pixie sticks and Red Bull. When all is said and done, kids come running up screaming I LOVE IT and coaches say they have great stroke and they can fix their endurance. Check book comes out and it is official, team three now owns your child.

This is where we are now. My kids may look like a lawn mower in a pool but guess what, they are kicking some ass now. It took a while but I realized that there only one of two things can happen in a race, you either go slower than your best or faster. No one gives a shit what you look like. There is no compulsory score in swimming! How awesome is that?

The Four Basic Stokes

There are four basic strokes in swimming.  This is how it is described.  I was totally confused when I learned there weren’t more than four.  I mean, if they are basic, isn’t there room for a intermediate and advanced strokes?

Grace started in guppies, quickly advancing to tadpoles, then minnows, dolphins, sharks and then killer whale (ok they didn’t have killer whales but I am pretty sure we have had an coach or two who was one in a previous life).  OH GOD NO, she didn’t start in guppies, she started in Mommy and Me.  How in the hell could I forget this.

Mommy and Me.  A man started this.  A man who hates women.  Not all women, specifically, women who have given birth in the last 6 months.  Because there is no way any woman would ever think it was a good idea for a woman to wear a bathing suit 6 short months after having a child. We all know that the first child is the only one who does mommy and me swim classes.    The second wears floaties until she is 7, rips them off and passes the swim test on her first try.  She has known how to swim for years but mom is too busy with number three to notice.  Number three jumps off the diving board at three, bobbles to the surface and swims to the edge of the pool while the first time moms look in disgust and horror at mom (me) who has her nose in the newest US Weekly.   Survival of the fittest.

It took a year (ok three) for me to figure out which stroke was which.  As someone who didn’t “do” swimming as a child they all looked exactly the same to me.  Well, not backstroke, I am swim stupid but not swim idiotic.  Free style was the next one I figured out, as it looks much like backstoke but on the tummy.  Butterfly and breaststroke took a little longer.  I admit I don’t get breaststroke, it looks like a cross between a turtle yapping and a frog drowning to me but what do I know.  I do know there is a market for a new stroke, these four are going to get old someday.  I like the idea of a combo back/free where one rolls through the water like a torpedo.  I may patent this idea so back off.

Becoming a swim mom

I actually don’t know how I became a swim parent.  I am crystal clear on how I became a parent, that part goes without saying but having three girls that swim?  I don’t know how that happened.  I was destined to have football players.  I should have known better when I married the collegiate swimmer but I seriously thought he was kidding when he told me he was comfortable in a Speedo, or that he would make our boys (should we have them) wear one.  Yes, he still wears one.  The girls turn into world class sprinters when he wears it, I see USA Track and Field recruiters hovering when dad decides to swim laps.  My kids hop on the back of the ice cream truck (I swear he follows me through the ATM and only shows up at the pool on the days I have cash) and ride off into the sunset.

As a kid, we didn’t “DO” swim team.  Or as my mom would say, “no one DID swim team”.  What she really meant is that she took one look at the flyer, describing the five weekly practices, 6AM weekend meet start times and the volunteer requirements and she promptly threw that in the trash (dumping coffee grounds and cigarette butts on top) and signed us up for Indian Princesses, a good excuse for my dad to drink beer around the campfire with his buddies, giving her an entire weekend to herself every month or so.  In hindsight, she was brilliant.

Fast forward 20 years.  Thanks to a lot of wine, here I am now, proud mother of three.  Girls.  Grace, the 12 year old diva who flat irons her hair in between events, Sarah the 10 year old ego maniac who thinks a 10 minute 500 free is respectful and Sophie the 7 year old who is best described as THE Coppertone Kid with a booty that was destined for butterfly.  Up until this year Grace was the only dedicated swimmer but despite my protest and bribery, the other two have decided to officially retire from all other sports and dedicate their life to swimming.  I know it is the nachos.  We can talk about that later.

I didn’t become a “swim mom” right away.  Now, let’s be clear.  “Swim Mom” really means “That Mom”.  You can be a dance, soccer, pageant, basketball, softball, baseball, cheer, football mom.  We all deal with the same box of crazy.  The sports differ.  Some of us sit in the rain, the heat, the snow, the gym, the studio, the stadium or the field.  But we all SIT.  That is our common thread, the glue that binds.  We sit.  And sit.  And sit.  And sit some more.   I wish to thank Steve Jobs (RIP), on behalf of all moms for inventing the ipad.

But “swim moms” have it the worst.  Disagree?  Write your own story.  Or just enjoy mine – laugh a little, drink a little, cry a little, celebrate our children a lot.