We have been around swimming for a while now. Grace started when she was 6. She is now 13. All three girls swim year round.
I admit when we first started out, I didn’t know anything. Sometimes I think ignorance is bliss. Grace was this adorable, toothless first grader running around in a swim suit in the dead of winter. She liked the ring pops then. Somethings don’t change. She still likes them.
It was fairy easy for me to be uninvolved in swimming. I had a 2-year-old. There is nothing worse than a bored two-year old at a swim meet. Ask anyone. Just don’t sit next to one at a meet. I let Chris handle things. It was a great sport. She was having fun and getting exercise. I was potty training Sophie.
As time went on I became more involved. When we joined a summer swim team for the first time I had that ah-hah moment. Everything started to make sense. Once I understood the “competition” aspect of swimming though, I will admit, I got sucked in. A little more than I needed to be – and that is when the sport started sucking me dry. And then I made the decision to find peace and back out. The crazy swim mom still comes out from time to time. But I have learned to keep it in my head. Supporting other people in the sport has become easy for me. The success of others has no bearing on my kids success and the moment I figured that out, life became simple (albeit quite busy) once again.
Now that I am totally perfect though, I would like to ask others to try a little harder. Lots of crazy behavior came out the last few meets. I should ignore it but I can’t.
Parents, don’t TELL your kid they WILL make finals. Or that they WILL make a qualifying time. Even when it seems to be a foregone conclusion. Grace was seeded on 200 backstroke such that not making finals was almost impossible – one simple glide and a DQ cost her the finals. Another event she felt was a total long shot she qualified for the A finals. No one has a crystal ball. I would sell them at meets if they existed. There is no telling how your child or any other child will swim at any meet. A fellow swim mom told not only her child and anyone that would listen that her swimmer would make finals in all three events. So did the child. It didn’t happen. My kids felt sorry for the child because she was sobbing. Adults felt sorry for her. It isn’t fair to set a child up for failure or disappointment. Sometimes it just isn’t in the cards.
Crying on the deck. If you have a 12 or 13 year old daughter you will understand this. Put a group of them together and one of them is going to cry at a meet. The others watch it enough times and they feed off of it. They start doing it too. I watched Grace go from a non crier to a full on sobbing, emotional wreck in the period of three months. The final straw for me was seeing her cry after getting a best time. She won’t do it again. She can cry as often as she wants. Just not on the pool deck begging for attention. As a parent, I know the difference. I am a girl too you know.
The craziest thing of all to me though is scratching an event. Not because the event immediately following is one you are hoping to get the Olympic Trails cut in and you don’t want to be worn out. We will revisit the art of scratching if that is an issue. I watch two TOP swimmers scratch their TOP events recently. One because she was seeded to come in second. Against a 14 year old who literally sets National Age Group Records. Second against her. My daughter is happy to come in top 100 at the bottom of her age group at this meet. The second scratched because she was afraid she wouldn’t get a best time in her top event. But she was fine swimming another event twenty minutes later (and for the record DID NOT get a best time).
Why does this affect me? I don’t ever want my kids to think it is acceptable to give up because they aren’t going to win. I don’t want them to think not doing your best every single time is a reason to walk away from a challenge. That anything is guaranteed. These are life skills, not swimming.
If being second isn’t good enough what is the point in swimming if you are 100th? Or don’t even qualify for the meet? Should we quit now? Some of these kids need managers at 14. If they ever do go all the way interview with fellow swimmers will be interesting. Don’t be a prima donna. Even if you are awesome…especially if you are awesome.
My kids can scratch at a meet for one of two reasons. One, we are holding a bucket up to catch the projectile vomit or two, we are holding the broken appendage together until we can get to the hospital for a cast. Or some variation of that theme. If they can warm up, if they can swim the next event or the next day they will swim all of their events.
I will give credit where credit is due. We have amazing people in our group. I got a text from a family that was at another meet. They were following the meet on meet mobile and sent Grace a congrats five minutes after she swam. Their daughter, the underdog for years, got several sectionals cuts this weekend. I watch and learn from the best.
We need to raise our children to be good people. They aren’t swimmers. They are kids that swim.