Two kids – one session

Our meet this weekend is a 10 and under.  Well, I have two of those.  Which means Sarah and Sophie are swimming in the same session.  It gets better, warm ups are at 4:30.  We had a little mix up in the car the other day, Sophie asked when warm ups started and I told her they were at 4:30.  I could hear the panick in her voice as she tried to calmly explain that there is absolutely no WAY she could be at the pool at 4:30.  Panic subsided when I explained that it was PM!  I’m with Sophie, 4:30 AM is an uncivilized time.

Sophie gets to pick her events and since she is only 8 we decided to give her a fighting chance and only put her in the events we knew she could handle.  Despite the fact that I think she has a beautiful butterfly we skipped the 200 fly and opted for the 50 fly.  Eight year olds in our club still do 25’s so a few 50’s and 100 free was more than enough for her.

Sarah on the other hand does NOT pick her events, her coach does.  I really like this practice because it forces her outside her comfort zone and he puts her in her off events every other meet.  Grace has learned from her own mistakes of never swimming off events and now signs up for breast stroke in meets where it makes sense to race it.

Well, the inevitable has happened.  Sarah and Sophie are both swimming 50 fly.  Sophie’s favorite and Sarah’s least favorite events.  Sarah is 2.5 years older than Sophie.  Their seed times are a solid 6 seconds apart.  I would be shocked it that were the case tomorrow afternoon when we leave the meet.  I think Sarah’s time is pretty tight and Sophie’s is not.

At the end of the day, one of them is going to be faster than the other.   I don’t have a crystal ball.  I sure wish I did. I don’t know what will happen this weekend but they go as sisters and leave as sisters. I would like for them to both do their very best and what ever happens happens.

Sarah’s competitive, she will race you to open a bag of chips.  Sophie has been working hard.  One insisted she go to practice last night to work on starts, one took a self imposed night off.  Wish ME luck.

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It was a slow meet

What does this mean? As a parent it means it took forever. Started late, ended late and had 25 heats of 200 breaststroke and 24 heats of 400 IM. Half of them swimmers with no times. That my friends is a slow meet. I sometimes feel as though I am watching a season change from the one 3 foot square window on the opposite side of the pool. It never fails that the one tiny beam of sunlight comes in that window, bounces off the pool and straight into my eyes. I have come to appreciate seeing the light, it means that it is still the same day that I arrived. Slow meet. Five or more hours right?

Not so fast. Literally. A “slow” meet I guess is one with slow kids. Or everyone swims slow. You are really screwed if all the slow kids, who swim slow have a meet at the slow pool. I think it is an excuse. A lame one at that.

I understand NFT (no faster than) meets. All the super fast kids are pulled out. But I don’t even consider these slow meets, as a matter of fact, my kids always get best times at the big one we participate in each year. Grace got a freaking medal in breaststroke at one, I mean how can you hate on the NFT meets when your kid medals at their drowning stroke? No one does, these are never the “slow meets”.

Apparently a friends of mine’s child swam at a slow meet this weekend. The swimmer (who is stupid fast by the way) failed to get a best time on any of her six races. And she scratched one race. Later, I was told that the swimmer intentionally swam slow and never intended to swim the scratched race, she only signed up for it to psych someone else out.  She swam slow because it was a “slow meet”.  Her mom meant, beneath her.

I am left scratching my head on this one. I don’t understand why anyone would go to a swim meet and not attempt for a best time. I could not care less what place my kids get in a meet (slight disclaimer that at the Olympics this goes out the window should one of my kids actually go). Bottom line, swim as fast as you can, every chance you get. I am 100% fine with my kids tanking a race. My head would explode if they intentionally bagged a race.

I assume at the higher levels there is some strategy in swimming at various meets.  But I don’t believe that exists for 13 year olds.  It just feels like a big excuse to me.

I don’t ask my kids for best times every time they swim, I don’t even think that is practical.  I simply want them to try their hardest and to have some reflection on the botched races.

The great outdoors…aka the meet I didn’t go to

Well, I survived not going to a travel meet with Grace and all of her friends parents, my friends.  Having three kids that swim really makes life easier but as a mom I also have to find balance in making sure that everyone is doing fun things and that our entire lives are not spent at a pool.  Just most of it.  Chris wanted to go.  Grace wanted him to go.  How do you say no to that?  You don’t.

Grace and Chris headed out-of-town Friday afternoon.  It was going to just be Sarah, Sophie and me for the weekend.

We spent Friday night at an end of the season soccer party complete with a bonfire, hay ride and s’mores.  Two of their friends came back to the house for a sleep over.  The kids slept in (glee) and we had a nice big breakfast.  I realized Saturday mornings don’t require nearly as much coffee without the early wake up call.  I took my two girls, my best friend, her four girls and three other friends to the National Zoo.   The weather was unbelievable, it was a sunny fall day, the foliage was beautiful and sweatshirts weren’t even required!  Afterwards we built a big fire in the fire pit, fed the kids and made s’mores yet again.  Sunday we slept in again!  After yet another slow start we went on a big hike and arrived just as dad was pulling in.

While I really wanted to be at the meet I had a wonderful time with my younger two.  Grace survived and thanks to dad I got nice videos of all of her races.  His commentary in the background was awesome.  I just yell GO really loud all the time but being a swimmer, Chris is able to narrate exactly what she is doing right.  And wrong!!!  It was fun to watch.

The reality is, soon we will have three age group swimmers and one also doing soccer.  We cannot be at every single meet or game.  We already have a weekend in December that I am going to need a master’s degree in logistics to get everyone where they need to be.  We are going to miss a race or two.  I am not going to apologize for it.  I survived a meet weekend without stepping foot in a pool. It didn’t hurt that it was a stunning weekend.  Grace survived too.  When she was done swimming, rather than come home with dad she opted to watch the 11-12 session and cheer for her friends.  She caught a ride home with a friend.  This weekend was a blast for her, it wouldn’t have mattered to her if neither of us went.  Except someone had to buy her dinner!

All in all it was a great weekend.  I get so caught up sometimes in what is going on at the pool that I forget about the fun we can have when we aren’t at one.  I love swim meets.  I also like beautiful fall days and I have missed many of those while at a swim meet.  I won’t be eating s’mores again anytime soon but other than that, I call it a success story.   I was a little miffed when I walked in the pool tonight and everyone wanted to know where Chris was.

Jumping in. Feet first.

Grace has her first meet as a 13-year-old this weekend. She turned 13 about an hour ago. Monday to be precise. We still like her, proof that the teen years aren’t as bad as they say…

Her group elected to go to a travel meet for November, rather than our monthly club invitational meet. I was excited, I love all the parents in her group and knew we would have a blast. I didn’t even think about screaming “pick me pick me” when she chose which parent would go. I am at home typing this and dad is on a five-hour road trip with her. Didn’t see that coming.

Going to travel meets at this age is important. The kids know the name, rank and serial number of every kid in our area. Or more precisely, name, winter club, summer club and date of birth including year. I can almost handwrite the psych sheets for our meets. Swimming against different kids, in a different environment becomes an important experience for these kids.

I was petrified to look at the psych sheet. Not because Grace had aged up but because this is a 12 and up meet. At the age of 13 years, 5 days, 4 hrs… Grace would be swimming against 18 year olds. I know she can hold her own amongst 13-14 but how about against grown women? Grace while tall, still is built like a child. Her hips and shoulders are slender and her legs, well, toothpicks. Thirteen is still a baby.

I actually avoided looking at the psych sheet for a day or two. And then curiosity got the best of me. There are 144 swimmers swimming Grace’s best event (100 backstroke). I slowly opened one eye and looked for her name. Started at the bottom (because that is where you are the bottom of your age group right?). I scrolled up to her time and there she was. SEEDED 34th! I thought I had to be reading it wrong so I looked again. She indeed is seeded 34th.

I am pretty sure that Grace could never convince a soccer player that 34th was awesome but she was pretty excited about that.

I have never paid much attention to the age groups above where my kids swim but after looking at this particular psych sheet I learned two very important things.

First of all, when you swim in an area that is swimcentric (such as DC metro) it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you are only slightly above average thus becoming discouraged. Being top 1 or 2 in our local swim club is an almost impossible task, we need to not lose sight that top 10 in this area is a notable accomplishment.

More importantly it was eye-opening to see how tight the times are as we move up in age groups. When kids are under 13, dropping 3 or 4 seconds is realistic. By the time kids are 13, and their times are solid, dropping half a second becomes cause for celebration. Grace moved into 13 with fairly recent best times in her best events. The reality is, we will see small incremental movement in those times in the coming years. Understanding that will help her stay motivated.

Hopefully she will rise to the challenge in the “big girl world of swimming” this weekend. And me? I have to rise to the “big girl world of parenting” from afar. I suspect they are going to have a blast. I am off to a hayride and bonfire. It will be nice to explore the outside world of sports at the end of the season soccer party tonight.

And just like that I have a teenager

Today is Grace’s birthday.  She turns 13 although I have joked that she has been a teenager since she was 13.

Birthday’s are huge deal for any kid!  Mine is a summer birthday and I remember every year thinking how unfair it was that all of my friends got to celebrate at school and I never did.  Now they allow kids to celebrate their half birthday at school if they have a summer birthday.  I am torn as to how I feel about this practice.  I felt jilted for sure but this everything is fair crap also annoys me.  I digress, this isn’t about my birthday is it?

As swimmers, birthdays are more than gifts, parties and cake.  Birthdays are the lifeline to the status rankings of swimmers.  At yesterdays swim meet, Grace was sitting pretty.  The reigning queen of 11-12.  Next week she will be a mere babe in the world of 13-14.

Swimmers can rattle off the ages of all of their friends, they know the month and date of their birthday.  I am not sure my kids know when my birthday is!  I have no worries about Grace being the bottom of her age group next week.

When Grace was a baby she had two nicknames, Peanut and Princess.  We adopted the name peanut because when I was pregnant for her she was tiny.   When she was born my Doctor looked at us and said “she is a tiny little peanut”.  She now towers over me.  We dropped that nickname early on.  We also called her princess until she was about 11 and she asked us to stop.  Grace felt that princess held a connotation of being better than everyone else.  She liked being just like everyone else at that age.

Grace to me defines being a princess.  She is intelligent, poised, kind and dignified.  She possesses a maturity level beyond that of a 13-year-old.

Being Grace’s mom is an honor.  She might be the bottom of her age group but she will always be top of the world to me.

Happy Birthday Grace.  We love you.

You win some, you lose some

Last night was the final soccer game of the season for Sarah.  It was extremely cold and windy and I wasn’t looking forward to it.  I contemplated watching the game from the car.

The team they played were some of the worst sports men, women and children I have ever seen.  It clearly came from the coaches, trickled right down to the parents and the kids.  I am sure in the rest of their lives these people are good people, probably people I would hang out with and enjoy their company.  They just don’t know how to act on the field.

I don’t know if it was the cold weather or just that it was a late Friday night but our team responded by having a blast.  We cheered for our kids, laughed, and at one point all broke out in a dance.

I have no problem with winning in a team sport.  It is fun.  It’s the only true test of how well you played.  But I would much rather hang around with this group of losers any day.

It looks like Coach is hanging on another season, so we can get through spring and find a new coach to take over.  Her shoes will be hard to fill.

It was a bittersweet loss, but one I am proud of.

Good bye fifties, hello 13

This weekend is Grace”s last meet as a 12 year old. Monday she becomes a teenager. Well officially she has acted like one for quite some time!

This should be a great meet. She swims three relays and one individual event. She has to be there at 5 PM tonight and 11 AM tomorrow. It is at our home pool, fifteen minutes from the house. And tonight we get an extra night of sleep.

I am abandoning the 11-12 age group. For a month. And them Sarah takes over.

Good luck to all the swimmers today!