Strike a pose

I teach yoga and have a love hate relationship with the proud dancer pose. I am not particularly good at balance poses but I know I need to work on them and they feel really good.

The life of a swim parent is a bit of a balancing act. I won’t bore you with my schedule – I have three kids who swim, two play soccer and dad is a consultant, travelling during the week. You too? We all do! I had a commenter on one of my blog posts who felt both parents should go to every meet! Not going to happen.

Aside from the obvious, that I can’t drag my other two children to a 5:30 AM warm up three counties over, we also have other things going on in our life. Those of you who have ever been to a trials and finals meet know that they start Friday evening and end Sunday night. With only driving, eating and sleep in between. The other two kids (please don’t tell me you have three kids that always swim in the same meets and if you do I am moving where ever you live!) have their own practices, soccer games, birthday parties and heck sometimes we even score another meet three counties over in the other direction. Both parents at every meet? Not just impractical but impossible.

Go beyond the fact that I can’t teleport and haven’t cloned myself (although a clone or sister-wife who likes to cook and clean would be AWESOME!), other things are important. I look for balance for all of my kids not for one. They are all important and have unique and special things going on in their life. My goal is to be present in their whole life, not their swimming life. We are more than a swim family and if it is 70 degrees and sunny in January you better believe one of is going to take the kids that are not swimming to a park, on a hike, kayaking or into DC for the day to visit a museum or three.

Take it a step further – I have learned swimming isn’t about the meets. It took a while and yes, I cried after many a race because the expectations did not meet the reality of that particular race. And then I learned that no one cares that:

  • you could do a 25 fly no breather when you were 7
  • you missed the 50 breast JO cut by .05 when you were 10
  • at 12 you false started 100 free when you were trying to go under 60 seconds

None of these things matter. What matters is what you do after that. As soon as that meet is over, take it back to practice. Did you work on your kick so you could get that fly under 20 seconds next time? Did you work on your pull out that slowed you down? Did you practice starts until you were blue in the face? Swimmers don’t get better because of meets, they get better for them!

Meets are simply the lessons we take back to practice. It took me a really long time to learn that practice is where the magic happens, not at the meets. After five years in the sport we have gotten to the place were the results at the meets are all but foretold. We have the surprise finish, faster than expected and certainly the blown race from time to time but in general, very few surprises at the meets.

I rarely miss a race and one of us is always there but I feel that we are there as a taxi, ATM and from time to time a therapist. I generally sit next to the person who needs a therapist! More often that not, my kids go to their coaches for the high fives or hugs. They reflect with their friends. My presence doesn’t make my kids swim faster. This theory has been tested on many a 500 free where I am as close as I ever could be to the action and I may as well be on Mars for all they care.

The reality is, despite what other people think of me, we will continue having ONE parent at most meets. The other is making fun memories with the other, equally important children. I have yet to see a race that was the defining moment in my child’s life. Once I realized that, swimming became a hell of a lot more fun for us. And trust me, when we do have that one race that defines my child, you will hear all about it. Hope you have a while.

Skipping practice tonight for a chorus concert.

This means I have to shower and go mingle with people I don’t see often.  I hope they have a “my name is” sticker for me.  I feel amongst my people at the pool, hope they don’t miss me too much.

I just called a friend and asked her when warm ups are.  Yes, I probably need to get out more often.

I am not sure I know what my daughter looks like in a crowd without a swim suit, cap and goggles on.  I have learned to recognize them by their walk, the way they cock their hip when they stand, the way they use their palms to press their goggles in, how they arrange their hair in a cap and which arm shakes like mad when they are nervous.

I  hope they sing fast and nail all their starts and finishes.

Had a fainter at the meet today!

I have spent the last year trying to convince Grace that she can swimmer harder, that she isn’t going to die at the end and that it is ok to feel like you are going to faint when you finish a race.  The ambulance did not help me convince her.  I need to find out if that kid got a best time though, what with this being a last chance meet and all.  (the kid is fine).

Concessions were off the chart candy filled.  All crap.  I would complain but it was our home pool and that might not win me any friends.

Tomorrow I sleep in and dad goes.  Oh wait, I will totally have to get up and get everyone ready anyways.  I WILL go back to bed though.


Last call…

Tomorrow starts what we call a JO (Junior Olympics) Qualifier.  In other words, last chance meet.

Grace is swimming 5 events this weekend even though she already has 6 qualifying times, the max she can swim at the meet.  She has several that she is just .10 away from making the cut and for the first time in her swimming life she may actually be able to make strategy based decisions as to what she will swim.

Sarah (who up until now hasn’t gotten much press time but I do have a great story about her, you will have to check back) is swimming one event.  50 breast.  She is 10 and will age up before the big qualifier next year.  She is 4 seconds away from the qualifying time but the way Sarah swims, she might take off 5 seconds.  She may add 9 too.  She is 10 and hasn’t found consistency.  She has found concessions though and loves to eat a bagel and muffin a few moments before she swims.  She also had to beg her coach to swim as he felt her time wasn’t quite close enough.  She is going to make one hell of an attorney one day as she put out a case worthy of winning her a shot.

Sarah is very worried about how she will do at this meet.  She is worried that this is her last chance!  Last chance at what?  It is her last chance to swim 50 breast on February 26th.  Other than that it is just another meet.  I want her to do her best but I applaud her for fighting for a shot.  I admire her ability to not compare herself to her sisters.  I respect her fight.  Go Sarah go.

Last chance my ass.  It is about the journey not the race.  She wanted a good pump up song for her ipod.  My favorite is “Lose Yourself” Eminem.

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment,
You own it, you better never let it go,
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow,
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo!

Little heavy for 10.

Bagels are on me Sarah, swim your ass off.

P.S.  Spring Champs is way more fun, all the kids with JO cuts stay home and all the kids who almost made it get medals.  And they have Krispy Kreme at that meet!

Junior Olympics Countdown

I added a countdown calendar until JO’s, our big spring meet. 12 year old is swimming and the 10 year old would saw off an arm to be able to! She is giving it her all and hopes to come away from our meet this weekend with a qualifying time. Fingers crossed for her.

I thought a JO calendar made me sound like a more caring parent than a calendar that counts down the number of days until I get a two week break from the freaking pool. Our first since September.

I am seriously psyched about not washing towels, driving to the pool or making my kids two dinners every night. Added bonus – two weeks of NOT hearing “OMG that practice was so freaking hard”.

Oh yeah, and I can’t wait to see some awesome swimming!

Red Solo Cup

I can make any rant relate to swimming! 


What is my kids obsession with solo cups?


I had a group of moms over yesterday.  (Their kids swim with mine, thus this involves swimming).  I picked up some cute paper plates and solo cups because I am just that lazy.


I had about 30 solo cups left and my kids have used them all.  Even though I told them not to.  Ten times.  Are we lacking class and sophistication?  Are they getting early revenge on me because they will be too tired from swimming to go out and party in college?

Or are they future swim moms in training?  I wonder.  Please tell me I am not alone and your kids go all kinds of senseless when you have a disposable cup in the home.

I totally have my goggles…

I view much of my life in terms of classes.  I teach group fitness classes to help pay for my kids swimming.  The endorphin rush I get from working out also keeps me somewhat sane and pleasant.  My motto?  “Happy mom, happy kids”.  Swimming costs me about 200 classes a year.  In other words I have to teach about 200 classes a year to pay for my kids swimming.  (One would think I would look better in a bathing suit than I do).  This doesn’t include gear.

Every September we purchase all new gear.  I swear they should do swimmers registries.  I haven’t bought baby crap for a really really long time but I loved walking into the store and saying I want this, this, this and two of those!  And the UPS man would just deliver all of this useless shit to my house.  Yes, useless shit.

Once you have paid for swim team, swimming seems like a cheap sport.  Bathing suit, cap and goggles right?

Not so fast.  Let’s look this over a little closer:

Suits – Kid is swimming 5 days a week.  In chlorine.  We go through about 6 practice suits a year.

Goggles – One pair.  Check.  Until they leak or break.  Or nervous kid chews through strap.  Maybe a back up pair.  Or three.

Kickboard – One.  indestructible.  They never lose this and there are always 100 floating around.

Fins – One.  Pair.

Cap – One would work but I have girls.  You know where I am going with this.  They need to match their practice suit.

All the other crap – These are all the “nice” but not “need” to have items.   Swim bag, flip flops, mini shampoo and conditioner, towels, hair brush and cell phone (Temple Run anyone?)

And the most useless piece of crap ever – The mesh bag.

It holds all the crap.  All neat and organized.  Because we all know swimmers are so organized and never lose shit.  The mesh bag I have found EXPEDITES the crap loss.

Grace lost her mesh bag.  It contained cap, goggles, fins and kickboard.

Me to Grace – check locker room, lost and found and front desk.

Grace to me – KK (this means ok?)

Next day…

Me to Grace – did you check?

Grace to me – yeah, totally lost.

One last-ditch effort, Me to Grace – you checked all the places I asked?  Eyeroll….

Off we went to replace everything.  As we are loading it all on the counter I made a last moment decision to put the mesh bag away.  I felt like she needed to lose everything the hard way next time, piece by piece.   The moment we got home I insisted Grace SHARPIE her name on everything.

Fast forward a week and we are at a meet at our home pool.  I was shooting the shit with the front desk crew talking about how airheaded swimmers are.   Mr. Headofthefrontdeskdude laughed and said, no kidding, someone left a mesh bag full of crap here a week ago and hasn’t claimed it…ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME???????????

My 12-year-old is way too cool to ever hang out with me at a meet but I can text her (I am not allowed to talk to her in front of her friends).

So I text homegirl.  K-Did you ask the front desk if they found your mesh bag? G-yeah. K-for reals? G-duh.

That’s when I snapped a photo of said bag and texted that to her.

Turns out mesh bags hold three pair of goggles, two practice suits, four caps, a kick board and a wet dollar.  Who knew?  Couple hunderd bucks worth of shit.  8 spin classes.  My ass isn’t getting any smaller.  (and to answer the question you are dying to know, why didn’t I just return everything I bought the second time…one word, sharpie).

My favorite place to shop:

My kids prefer this:


Lucky for me, I have yet to see one that actually works.

Just add water

How hard is it to follow simple directions? Sophie has a mini meet this weekend and dad agreed to take the Saturday leg if I would do Sunday. Before you send me a virtual high-five for sleeping in on Saturday, know that I got to take Grace to her even earlier practice. And I also scored Sarah’s 7 AM drop off today, along with meet duty. I foresee some retail therapy in my future.

Being the wonderful (control freak) wife that I am, I packed Sophie a bunch of snacks in her Hello Kitty lunch box with a note that said “swim fast, I love you”.

I also emailed dad. I sent him the name of the pool, the address and warm up times. Last but not least, the very simplest of directions.

Get there early. Do NOT drop her off at the door. Park the car and walk her in. Walk her down to deck and find her coach. Do not leave until at least ONE friend is there. Simple. Literally, I handed this day to him on a silver platter. All he had to do was just add water and this one would be in the books.

Instead, he got there late, dropped her at the door and went to park. As fate would have it, she too parked it. Right in side the door in full on meltdown.

Dad calls me in the hopes that I can calm things down. What do I get? Sophie chewing me out because I didn’t even care enough to tell her good luck before I left! At this point I realize the lunchbox and note are home alone, unread and untouched.  And Sophie?  She give a big FU to swimming.

Husband calls in a team of assistants.  Everyone who coaches her, has ever coached her and may SOMEDAY coach her.  They all gave it the old college try.  Straight up – home girl wasn’t having it.  Dad finally lost it and said “you can sit there all you want BUT YOU ARE SWIMMING”.   Sit there she did, pouting and crying.  After a while, I turned my phone off.  It got old.

Who saved the day?  The 21-year-old coach, SUPER TRAVIS saved the day.  He asked her ONE simple question.

What excuse do you have to not swim today?  A bit baffled, Sophie replied “I don’t have an excuse”.  Travis simply said “well, then you are going to have to swim aren’t you?”  And swim she did.  Six personal bests and five ribbons.  I bow down to the greatness of the 21-year-old.

Lesson here?  Leave your excuses in the locker room!  Just swim.