Can’t believe I am saying this

Day two with the teenager was a walk in the park.  It was just last year that I was always nervous when she swam.  Up until recently Sarah didn’t really care about swimming, she just did it for the socializing and she enjoyed the exercise.  Sophie was 7…if we could get through a meet with her with no tear we considered it a success.  The tide has shifted and all three girls are very focused on their races and success in the pool.

This isn’t to say I don’t care about Grace’s swimming any more.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I am in awe of her dedication and focus to the sport.  She has been swimming consistently since she was 6.  It hasn’t come easy to her all the time either.  She has weathered unpredictable coaches, long plateaus and years of girl drama.  And still loves it.

Grace is becoming a young woman.  She used to need pumping up before meets and lots of encouragement.  She has found that inner fight on her own.  As well as inner peace.

Going into this meet she only had one JO cut and about 7 she was close to.   She had to pick five events and struggled with which five to choose.

During the morning session she swam 50 and 200 free.   While she didn’t make the JO cuts she took time off in both events and was pleased with her results.  After a quick rest at home we went back to the pool – stopping at Starbucks for her “go-go juice” – some kind of soy vanilla frozen thing.  She was concerned about how she would do in the afternoon session, she had 200 IM, 200 Back and 100 fly in pretty rapid succession.  Her coach and her dad suggested scratching one of the events.  She was furthest from the JO time in 100 fly but it was the last event and the one she most wanted to swim.

My advice is always different.  I am not a swimmer – I was in sales in my professional career.  My motto?  Simple, throw a lot of shit against the wall and see what sticks.  Simply put, swim your heart out in all three races and see what happens.

Her IM – the race she debated scratching was awesome.  She only needed to take off a second for the JO cut.  All was going well until she hit breaststroke.  I think she was tapering or something.  Not her best performance.  She added a second.

This is when I usually get really nervous.  But I didn’t.  Her next race was 200 back and I knew she would get the JO time.  She had swum it twice recently, once getting an oops DQ and once slipping on her start.  She had run through her excuses and it was time to swim it well.  And she did, taking of almost 4 seconds and getting her time.

She warmed down for 6 minutes and was back on the block for 100 fly.  She had a great swim, took off enough time to qualify for Dolan but missed JO’s.  And just like that we were out of there.

She was thrilled with her swims.  Having two JO times she gets her bag tag and t-shirt but also gets to swim at Spring Champs.  She swims great when rested and is excited about both meets.

After the meets they get a two-week break and we head into LC season.  Grace loves long course and is excited for the change of pace.  The car ride home was lively conversation.   About shopping.  Teenagers are great.  Did I just say that?

Girl on fire

This weekend is our February Qualifier meet for Junior Olympics.  We once went to a qualifier that they called Last Chance Meet which I always found humorous, especially if you kids are 9.   This meet was a little different than usual meets, instead of the kids swimming two sessions on two days they had two sessions on one day.  The 12 and unders had two sessions Saturday and the older kids are swimming today.

Sophie swam 100 fly in the morning and 50 fly in the afternoon.  She had never swam 100 fly but based on her 50 fly times the coaches thought she had a legitimate chance of making the JO cut.  She needed to take 1 second off her 50 ly in the afternoon to get it.

I was very proud of Sophie – she never doubted herself or her abilities to swim 100 fly.  The only mention of nerves came as we were walking into the pool, she said “I have butterflies for butterfly”.  I gave her a quick kiss on the top of her head and she went on deck for warm ups.  I was a nervous mess.  I paced for two hours until she swam.   Sophie hopped onto the block like a total badass.  She was the only 8 year who swam.  The other kids ranged in age from 9-12.

She had a beautiful swim.  She fell just short of her goal of 1.30.69 – but still clocked an impressive 1.33.69.  She was ecstatic.  We left, she came home and napped.  Despite not making the JO cut, she did make the Dolan time for next year.

For the afternoon session Sarah and Sophie were both swimming.  Sophie had 50 fly and Sarah’s coach had put her in three events.  I was appreciative of his putting her in the meet, they kids were supposed to be close to the JO times and having just turned 11 late in November Sarah really didn’t have a shot.  Sarah’s coach picks her events and as luck would have it, she ended up in 50 fly as well, same heat as Sophie.  Lanes 3 and 4.  I use the term luck here, people often forget there are two kinds of luck.  Good luck and not so good luck.

Sarah actually figured out Friday night that they would be racing one another.  She wasn’t happy.  She isn’t the kind of kid who gets over things quickly.  She had almost 24 hours to stew over this.  Or perhaps brew.

We opted to take one car, a risk I know, to the second session.  Both girls were on edge.

Sarah swam 200 IM and 50 breaststroke.  After watching her two races I had already determined who would prevail in the sibling showdown.

When it came time for the two to race my heart was literally racing.  I really wanted Sophie to get her cut and I also wanted Sarah to win.  This was the best possible case scenario for me.  (Yes it is about me, I have to live with them!).

Unfortunately, nerves got the best of Sophie and she lingered on the block.  A painfully long time.  There is no room for error on a 50.  Sophie’s race was over before it started.  Sarah however was ready to take this heat down.  In flames.  She destroyed the heat and took off 3 seconds, swimming a 35.59!  (Sarah doesn’t even like fly for the record!).  Sophie added a second which was impressive given her start.  Had she nailed that start she would have made her time, there is no doubt in my mind.  The awesome news is she has two more years to hit it!

Sophie cried for a moment.  I was very happy that she knew what she had done wrong.  Sarah made sure that Sophie knew she beat her.  And then apologized.  It was a peaceful ride home.

Sarah was the dark horse of this meet.  While she didn’t make any qualifying times at this meet, I do see them in her future.  I thought her coach put her in the meet to be nice.  I was wrong.  He put her in because he believed in her.  I asked him to take a chance on her at the beginning of this season and he did.  He let her in the group and she struggled for a bit.  She now belongs there.  Her future is bright.  Sarah is a competitor, once she knew she had her sister in that 50 fly she took on everyone else.  She handed in three brilliant swims.  Sophie two.  After 5 swims at a qualifying meet, none actually making the cut, I left full of pride.  It was a great day.

 

Did someone say showdown?

This coming weekend is our February qualifier meet for kids who are trying to make JO cuts.  Twelve and unders have a double session on Saturday, and the older kids a double session on Sunday.

Grace decided to make life difficult.  She is less than half a second from the cut in 7 events.  She can only swim 5 at this meet.  In the end it is a roll of the dice deciding what to swim.  I am not worried about her, she has been working her tail off in practice and she will do well.

As luck would have it – I have two kids who are under 12 so they are in the same meet.  This rarely happens.  Sarah and Sophie are both swimming Saturday.

Sophie who is 8 is taking on her first 100 fly.  She was willing to give it a shot and even if she doesn’t get the JO cut she will be close.  Keep in mind it is a 9-10 event!  I was happy she was agreeable to swimming it, 100 fly is something a lot of kids are afraid of.  She is nervous but also excited to give it a try.

In the afternoon Sarah is swimming 3 events and Sophie 1.   The inevitable has happened – they are both swimming 50 fly.  That isn’t the good part.  They are seeded next to each other.  Not one single kid could fill that .18 gap between the two.  Not a single kid.  Shit.  And don’t forget, the 8-year-old is faster than the 11-year-old.

I would love to tell you that these two don’t compete.  That would be complete bullshit.  Sarah and Sophie are in competition with one another even in their sleep.  Their lives are a constant battle of who is cuter, smarter, faster and right.  “No you aren’t” isn’t the most common phrase spoken between the two.  When they are actually speaking to each other.  It isn’t love – hate.  It might be a stretch to call it  like – hate.

You are probably wondering what things are like at my house right now.  I am glad you asked.  They are wonderful.  Because I haven’t told them.  Denial is bliss.  I don’t plan to tell them.  They will figure it out Saturday.

They are both fierce competitors with something to prove.  This is an individual sport.  They can fight it out in the pool.  I don’t think it is going to be pretty.  But I do expect it to be gloriously awesome.

I think we will take two cars though.   Just in case.

 

 

Getting a kid to believe

I have always wondered…How do you get a kid to believe in themselves.

I just figured it out.  You don’t.

They do.

I tell my kids on a regular basis how awesome they are.  And they barely believe me.  And then something just clicks for them and they believe it.  Because they believe it.  I think it is important that I help my kids understand their self-worth but the worth that defines them is theirs.  Not mine.  From time to time I see self-doubt in my kids.  I want to fix it.  I have learned not to…they can.

At least today that is how I feel.  I can’t fix everything, or make everything perfect or even make my kids good at everything.  But I love them.  Even when they eat too much chocolate and go to bed without cleaning the kitchen because they have a tummy ache.

Hope your day was filled with love.  Happy Valentine’s Day.

Watching greatness

My girls swim at an amazing facility. When we first started swimming there we were really impressed with it. But all things that are shiny and new become dull and boring after a while. When you look at something long enough you start to take it for granted. It isn’t until we host a meet that we are reminded how lucky we are. Or when we go to a meet at a pool in dire need of being renovated. Or torn down. I sat in a downpour at a meet recently. It was an indoor pool. Leaky roof. We are spoiled.

This past weekend, Metros were held at our pool. The very one I spend 7 days a week at. Because we were hosting this large meet, our kids did not have Friday or Saturday practice. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t have stepped foot in that building. But these were not normal circumstances.

Jack Conger, who swims for our club and made it to Olympic trials, was making a stab at the 500 free record – the oldest record on the books. The record had been set 30 years ago and last year Jack missed it by 1.12 seconds. We were hoping he would get it at preliminaries, I was anxious for him. He missed it by 4 seconds. Pressure was on for Saturday night.

Katie Ledecky swam five heats later in the women’s 500 free. While she swims for a competing club, we absolutely adore our local Olympic hero. While I have been at many meets she has swam in, I have never watched her swim…You see, she used to just be a normal kid who swam really fast. They are a dime a dozen in DC metro. While I never noticed her two years ago, I found myself excited to watch her swim up close and personal. In the very same lane my kids swim in night after night. The middle lane has always been special but I will look at it a little differently from now on, especially when my kids get to race in it. Seeing Katie swim was amazing. She is beautiful in the water. She lapped all of the fast kids.

My girls who are convinced the pool is their home tore off downstairs and had Katie sign everything and anything they could get their hands on.

Katie is the queen of awesome. She swims for a competing club remember? Yet she signed RMSC caps, t-shirts and swim bags. She even posed for a photo with the girls. Actually, she took it! She is a role model both in and out of the water.

Night two? Finals. Jack came back with a vengeance. Lots of records were set. The biggest, Jack broke that 30 year old record. He posted am impressive 4.13.87 on 500 free. I missed it – but I did get to see Sarah score at her second to last Futsal game. It’s all good.

It is a honor to see these kids in our pool. Katie, a sophomore Olympic gold medalist and Jack, a senior with a bright future. My girls were on cloud 9.

I won’t look at our pool the same for a while. The future of greatness might just be practicing in that lane.

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Really Grace, you too?

Grace woke up the day after I took Sarah to the Doctor, complaining of acute chest pain.  I usually know when my kids are sick, their coughs keep me up at night.  I hadn’t heard a peep from her roon, quite close to ours.  I agreed to let her stay home for the day.

I had to teach a few classes so left her home.  I got a call from her begging me to sub out my yoga and to get her to the Doctor.  She is not one to want to go to the Doctor so I obliged, subbed the class, made and appointment and raced home to pick up Grace.

She was pale and very quiet.  If there was any doubt before, I was certain now that she needed to see the Doc.

Our pediatrician spent a sizeable amount of time listening to Grace’s chest and back.  She listened to her lungs and heart, each enough times to cause some concern.  She then looked in her eyes, ears, mouth and nose. quietly she put all of her instruments down and with two fingers pressed on an area about an inch from Grace’s armpit.

Grace, all five feet and seven inches of her, almost threw her Doctor across the room.  The source of pain had been located.  Little miss sunshine had sore muscles.  Turns out she has been doing push ups and crunches a few times a day to increase her strength.  Grace out her head down and a small smile crept onto her face.

Turns out, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  She too had been google searching her pain.  She missed the diagnosis target by a mile.  She thought one of the following (and in no particular order):

Heart Attack
Lung Cancer
Asthama
Pneumonia

We left giggling and decided to celebrate with a lunch out.  She asked me not to tell anyone.  She must have known that wouldn’t happen!

It’s a disease?

True to form, Sarah has been complaining of foot pain lately.  For some reason every spring she has managed to injure a body part.  We have been through two stress fractures and one pulled tendon in the knee.  This time around she was having ankle pain which I was attributing to the Achilles tendon.

I feel like I have earned an MD since having kids.  A google MD that is.  After complaining about the pain for a few weeks I decided to take her to our orthopedic specialist.  I say “our” like we own them.  We might.  When we leave they say “see you in six months”.  When your kid has the nickname scrappy it is bound to happen.

After a few X-rays it was determined that Sarah has Sever’s Disease.  I gave an air fist pump and Napoleon Dynamite style “YES!’.  I hit the self diagnosis jackpot.  Love google.

Sarah’s eyes got enormous….I HAVE A DISEASE?  Sounds frightening doesn’t it?  It is actually quite common amongst active kids.

Sever’s disease, also called calcaneal apophysitis, is a painful bone disorder that results from inflammation  of the growth plate in the heel. A growth plate, is an area at the end of a developing bone where cartilage cells change over time into bone cells. As this occurs, the growth plates expand and unite, which is how bones grow.

Sever’s disease is a common cause of heel pain in growing kids, especially those who are physically active. It usually occurs during the growth spurt of adolescence, the approximately 2-year period in early puberty when kids grow most rapidly. This growth spurt can begin any time between the ages of 8 and 13 for girls and 10 and 15 for boys. Sever’s disease rarely occurs in older teens because the back of the heel usually finishes growing by the age of 15, when the growth plate hardens and the growing bones fuse together into mature bone.

Sarah is going to live.  No need to send flowers.  But it sure makes the painful decision not to play soccer in the spring seem like a brilliant one.

We decided to push the “no weight-bearing activities” treatment plan a little.  She won’t practice futsal but will play her last three games.  She is willing to deal with the pain, knowing it will be the end.

We did get some good news.  Sarah, the smallest on the growth scale of the three, may end up the tallest.  The upside of large growth plates at 11?  Lots of growing left to do.

And once again, thanks to Sarah, we have met our annual deductible by February!  I love my scrappy girl.

Girl Power

The countdown continues. Sophie swam at her second to last “mini meet”. Mini Champs in April will be our forever fond well to the 8 and under set. Sophie will be 9 in April.

This weekend the kids swam in a “gender blender” meet. In other words, girls vs boys. Sophie was excited, there were a few boys she was ready to have a showdown with.

Saturday she was swimming 50 fly as one of her events. She was going for the JO cut. I was pleased that both Sarah and Grace came to cheer her on. Grace may have done it to get out of her 630 AM practice and Sarah may have come for the donuts, I will never know for sure. But they did come to cheer.

Sophie had a good day, three best times, including a two second drop in her 50 fly. She missed her goal by a second but has one more meet – and two more years – to work on it.

After the meet Sarah went to lunch with dad and I took Grace and Sophie. I decided to go ahead and talk to Sophie about the white elephant in the room, she beat Sarah’s best time by .20. I told her if she had any thought of celebrating this was her moment. She laughed and said “I don’t care about Sarah – I beat every boy but one – and I beat all of them in my group!” Apparently 8 year old boys like to talk smack.

Sunday she tanked. I guess she did what she wanted to on Sunday. She did take. Post meet nap, something she hasn’t done in a while.

We later learned the girls out scored the boys. For the first time ever! Go girl power. Better showdown than the Super Bowl. If you are an 8 year old girl.

Sarah congratulated her on her swim. I suspect her 50 fly at the February meet will be amazing. I saw a little spark in her eye. But no fireworks in the house. Thank you for that swim gods!