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.