It is just a race

It took me 7 years to realize this.  Every single race is simply that.   Just a race.  None of them really matter that much.
The reality is, our kids become better swimmers based on finding the right mix of quality and quantity of practice.  The races are simply a measure of those two factors.  If the kids are attending practice and working hard while they are there they will race well.  And if they aren’t, well the times don’t lie.  It’s hard to escape the truth.
I think my kids have always known this but I am just now catching on.
In the past I would get very nervous about the girls races.  Especially when a qualifying time or place was on the line.  As a result, the girls would find themselves disappointed when they would not swim as expected.  We have even seen the occasional DQ on that race that “mattered”.
The pressure is off when you go into a meet with no expectations.  At our last meet Grace went in seeded second in 100 back.  Maintaining that seed was important if she wanted to swim it at the National Age Group meet two weeks later.  A best time was in the cards for her but was also in the cards for several others.  She came out fourth.  She got nervous and had a really slow start.    She missed her chance to swim 100 backstroke at NAG’s by .20. Whoops.
She could be mad.  She could cry, throw her bag, quit swimming or throw a huge tantrum.  I could yell at her.  I could yell at her coach.  I could even argue that she technically was faster she just blew her start and she should be allowed to swim anyways.  Instead we went to Chipotle.
Grace did however make NAG’s in 100 free.  An unexpected surprise.  I am excited, she needs a qualifying time in 100 free for an upcoming meet, she already has the time for back.  I call this dumb luck.  We expected her to swim back but the truth is she really needs another crack at that 100 free time.
Oh and how about this for dumber luck.  She made three relays, she will swim 100 back in one of them and she gets to keep her time if it is a best time (the upside of being a backstroker in relays!). One thing I can guarantee, she won’t make the mistake of hanging out at the start for too long!
And the following weekend she gets to swim 100 back yet again at a travel meet.  Her first meet as a 13-year-old.
Did she blow her race a few weeks ago?  Probably.  Does it matter?  By Sunday it will likely be a distant memory.  She probably will swim 100 backstroke fifty or more times in a meet before she goes off to college. I certainly hope last Saturday wasn’t her ONE shot.

Do we have practice tonight?

We survived Hurricane Sandy.  We didn’t lose our power and didn’t even notice the high winds.  Our house must be positioned just right as many of our friends heard howling winds all night.  We slept like babies.  Watching the news this morning I am very grateful we didn’t have the flooding or power loss that others did.

The first thing Grace asked me this morning was “do we have practice tonight?”.  Ironically enough, that was the first thing I asked my good friend J who is also a coach!  Practice tonight is still up in the air.

On one hand I am really excited that my kids first waking thought is “do we get to go to practice tonight???”.  On the other hand I have to wonder why she asked via text when she was in the room right next to me.  I would love to say we aren’t lazy people but I am not so sure.

Speaking of lazy, I am enjoying this slow start to the day.  I can’t remember the last time I was able to sit at the computer drinking a cup of coffee at 10 am.  We aren’t the types to sit around enjoying a lazy morning although when forced to do it I wonder why we don’t do it more often.  I think we need to make this more of a habit.  Minus the hurricane of course.



Sandy decided we needed a taper

We live in Maryland, just outside DC. I made both Sarah and Sophie go to their 7 am practices yesterday. I called it “the last chance workout”. I suspected practice tonight would be cancelled.

The winds this evening are predicted to be around 60 MPH this evening. As predicted practice tonight was cancelled. More than likely it will also be cancelled tomorrow evening. Wednesday is Halloween. The coaches like candy and as such they cancel practice so the kids can bring them Snickers. That leaves practice Thursday evening.

We have a big meet at our facility this weekend, NAG’s which is the top 3 swimmers for the large clubs in our area. Grace is swimming one event and three relays. She wants to do well at the meet.

When I told the kids school was cancelled Monday and Tuesday they jumped for joy. When I told them practice was cancelled they made sad faces.

Grace has decided to go to the Wednesday 445 AM practice (provided they have it). Up until now she has laughed hysterically at the notion of getting up that early. Who knew Mother Nature would convince her this practice would be worth attending.

Sandy has already done a lot of destruction. We are in for a long night. I too am sad practice is cancelled. I would much prefer to spend quality time with my friends instead of worrying if everyone is ok. I hope everyone is safe through this storm. I have decided to enjoy the forced slow down and plan an afternoon and evening on the couch with the kids and some good movies.

We may have a swimming pool in the backyard in a few hours. Not the kind I wanted.

The only upside, Grace should be tapered and well rested for the meet.

Stay safe friends.  Hope none of lose power.



The perfect gift for the perfect child

Grace will be 13 soon and we have been looking for the perfect gift to get her.  I think we have finally found it.

I could use some help.  Anyone have a spare $25,000?  You are welcome to join us at our table. While the price tag seems high, the proceeds from this event will support the USA Swimming Foundation’s mission to save lives and build champions-in the pool and in life.

Make sure you cast your vote for the awards.  Our hometown girl Katie Ledecky has 60% of the vote for breakout performance of the year!!!!


You know what, if you want to get us a table we can call this birthday and Christmas.  Much love.

Everything has changed

Tonight we didn’t have to bring the boys to practice. Sarah has soccer so I only had Grace and Sophie in the car. The boys keep me entertained but they are loud. We can barely hear each other let alone the radio.

The ride today was quiet. Grace turned on the new Taylor Swift (what do you call it now album, cd, mp3). I will admit it, I like Taylor.

One if her new songs is a duet called “Everything has changed”. I was enjoying the song and was stuck by a thought. Everything has changed.

A year ago we changed swim clubs. We were really unhappy at our old club. I can give you a great list of excuses as to why we were unhappy. It was expensive, inconvenient, a bad facility and a very small team. But the real reason we were unhappy was because I allowed other people to ruin the sport for us.

Going into last year I told myself WE are going to be happy. My kids were excited about the change. I was telling myself. Over and over again.

A year later I can reflect and say everything has changed. My girls are happy and confident swimmers. Me? I spend seven days a week there and don’t complain.

It would be easy to place all of the blame on our old club. And a lot of that would be justified. But I too was to blame. I allowed myself to get caught up in drama. I let other people mess with my head. I gave control of my emotions to other people. It was miserable.

I think being that “crazy parent” is a part of the process to become that “parent”. I am really quite content being that parent. I have learned that there are crazy people every where. The easy option is to walk away.

Change is good. I changed how I was going to deal with things and a year out I can honestly say I am happier. My kids? Who cares, it’s all about me. I’m kidding. Everything has changed. Thank goodness.

Please don’t go.


Sarah has been with the same soccer coach for 4 years now, since first grade.  Coach K is amazing and incredible.  She makes the girls work hard, teaches them to be respectful of each other and fellow competitors as well as respect for the game.  She is the type of role model we can only hope for our young girls to have.

On the way to her soccer game Friday night Sarah said “I am going to play with Coach K forever”.  I had to hide my tears from her.  That same morning we had gotten an email from the coach apologizing profusely because she had to step down as their coach.  In simple terms, life was getting in the way.

I by no means blame her.  She works full-time and is in graduate school.  She also volunteers her time to these girls and is not compensated in any manner.  The gift card we give her at the end of each season doesn’t even begin to properly express our gratitude.

She has asked us not to tell the girls yet and I will respect her wishes.  I don’t even know how to explain it to Sarah, she will take it hard.

I try to teach my kids to be adaptable.  I want them to get along with all coaches and teachers.  I don’t want them to have favorites and I don’t want them to talk about teachers and coaches in terms of mean, bad, hard, easy.  I think everyone who coaches and teaches our children has something positive to offer, we need to learn to deal with everyone and having someone new step in can always be a positive.

Except in the case of Coach K.  She was supposed to be there forever.  Change is good.  Right?

It just isn’t fair

Life, politics, swimming, you name it.

Grace has a very good friend who swims at our club.  She swims in the practice group that is one step below where Grace swims.  Grace’s group is by invitation only.  Her friend was asked to move into the group and very politely declined.  She is a very talented musician and wasn’t willing to make the commitment to the five required practices per week.  Grace was disappointed, they are very good friends.

This past weekend Grace tanked her 200 free.  I knew it was going to happened BEFORE she got in the water.  Her friend was in the same lane as her, the heat just before Grace’s.  Grace watched her swim, cheered her on and then made the fateful mistake of looking at the time board.  I could see the look on her face and I knew right then and there that this was not going to be a shining moment for Grace.

I was correct.  She added a few seconds from her best time, a time she got about 6 months ago.  Keep in mind the day before she shaved 4 seconds off her 100 free and two days before she swam the first 200 of a 500 faster than she swam her 200 free.

On the way home she said she was tired.  I challenged her.  She psyched herself out.  Her argument quickly changed to one of “it isn’t fair”.

You see, her friend only practices 2-3 times a week.  The rest of her time is spent on other sports.  She doesn’t even care about swimming.   The child is not only talented but also beautiful, kind and compassionate.  It is hard not to like her and easy to be jealous of her.  Grace quite obviously was.  I can’t blame her.

It isn’t fair.  She only practices 2-3 times a week.  She is fast.

Grace has to practice 5 times a week.  She wasn’t handed talent.  She has to work hard for it.  Sometimes I think if I could hand my kids talent I would.  Other times I am not so sure.  Developing a work ethic is a life skill.  So is recognizing that sometimes things come easier to other people.   I tell my kids all the time that I don’t care what other people’s kids are doing I only care about my own.  I will give them the tools they need to be successful in life.  But what they do with them, what they make of their own lives is entirely up to them.  I can’t do it for them.

My kids have to work hard.  Life isn’t fair.  Blah blah blah….  Swim your own race.  Or you walk home.  Don’t hand your race to someone who doesn’t even care if they beat you.  Don’t hand your race to anyone.

It’s a wrap

First swim meet of the season.  Done and done.  Sophie as you know snuck hers in the weekend before, Grace and Sarah swam this weekend.

Sarah scored the early warm ups.  By scored I mean, sucks to be 9-10 this time.  None of us are morning people.  Sarah is no exception.  Saturday morning though she woke up quite chipper.  So in this particular case it actually sucked to be me who had to drive her hyper self to the warm ups.  Somehow I managed to convince Chris to take her Sunday morning, I have no idea how that wake up call went.

Sarah is still somewhat on the fence about how she feels about swimming.  She never complains about practice, worked very hard to get in the harder practice group a few times a week and gives practice her all.  I am still convinced she does it for the nachos.  She also happens to be ultra competitive.  She swam 6 events and got 6 best times.  She was quite pleased with everything.  Oh and she got nachos.  Twice.  Sarah also had a soccer game on Friday night where she did an impressive header and a rainbow.  Sarah is really into the soccer tricks.  I wish there was a Harlem Globe Trotters equivalent for soccer.  She would be a shoe in!

Grace had a longer weekend, swimming 500 free on Friday, two events Saturday afternoon and three on Sunday.  Grace has a bad habit of swimming too conservative in the longer distances.  Dad harps on her about this, telling her not to swim scared.  The 500 free is the only event that will get me on deck.  Because I have to time.  I got to overhear Grace’s coach giving her race strategy.  He told her simply, swim it fast.  Grace sprinted the first 350 of the race.  And then she died.  I thought we either had a Katie Ledecky in the making OR I was going to fish her ass out of the pool.  I really thought about emptying my pockets in fear I was going to have to go in after her.  That would have sucked, I had blown out my hair that day.  She made it to the wall with a best time.  Not a great time but a best time.  She learned a valuable lesson.  That she wouldn’t die if she went all out.

She had five other races, 200 free she tanked, late on Sunday.  She did well on her 100 and 200 backstroke.  The highlight of the met was that she finally broke a minute on her 100 free!  She showed about the same emotion as she did when she tanked her 200 free, although I think she was jumping up and down for joy in her mind.  She is almost 13, emotion is not an option.  (In swimming that is!).

It was a great weekend.  I am proud of both girls.  They worked really hard and had a great first meet.  I am especially grateful that Sarah enjoys it after wanting to quit at the end of last spring season.

Good luck this year to all our swim friends.  I would love to hear your updates.

And yes that is my stupid loud self yelling!

The first last mini meet ever

Last Saturday was the first mini meet of the season.  Sophie is 8 and in her final year with minis!  Starting in April she will swim in the big leagues – you know the 9-10’s!  It is the beginning of the end.

I used to dread the mini meets and now I realize I am going to miss them.

There was a time that I thought the parents at the mini meets were absolute idiots.  Either they had no idea what they were doing (as IF I knew what I was doing when Grace was 6, I didn’t know butterfly from breaststroke for two years) or they were so obnoxious about their swim prodigy that I found myself wanting to throw them in the pool.

I sat at that meet with a sense of pride, I had survived minis three times.  Sophie, who would cry before meets, was now beaming with pride being one of the older swimmers in the group.  Grace never waves at me from behind the block or gives me the two thumbs up before the race.  Sarah only comes in the stands for money.  Sophie comes for wet hugs.  Grace and Sarah know their finish time to the exact moment.  Sophie finished her 100 freestyle in “A minute something”.  She dances while she waiting for her turn to swim, picks her wedgies, eats a donut between every race and hugs her friends before and after they race.  They play silly games and laugh.  I sit with friends and cry, tears of joy and pride.  For their kids and mine.

At this meet several of my friends kids raced for the first time ever.   They were all amazing and adorable.  One little girl, a friend of mines daughter, lost her tooth moments before her race.  She ran to mom, handed over the tooth, ran back and swam!  This doesn’t happen in the big leagues.

I am going to enjoy every moment of the mini meets I attend this year.  It is bittersweet.

Sophie had a great meet.  Dancing, donuts and diving.