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.