It’s my time

My favorite thing about swimming is that it is a sport that time means everything.
My least favorite thing about swimming is that it is a sport that time means everything.

I’m sure many of you are nodding your head in agreement right now.  When that time clock is on your side swimming is the greatest sport ever.  And when it isn’t?  Quite frankly it is hell.  With three kids swimming it is inevitable that one of them isn’t happy with the clock at any given time.

Sarah has spent the last few years in more of a love hate relationship with the sport in general.  She always swam as a secondary sport, soccer being her main sport.  She was forced into early retirement last year around this time due to some ongoing injuries.  We were able to convince her to add a few days to her swimming schedule and bumped her into the next higher group.  Sarah agreed to this – with one caveat – she would return to soccer.

Sarah has really enjoyed swimming this past year.  She has made some great friends and has done extremely well, dropping time like crazy and making tremendous improvements to her stroke.  That being said, she also has talked constantly about her return to the soccer fields.  I have spent the last year feeling like a complete fraud, basically nodding my head in agreement that she would return to soccer as a super star.  I knew better.  Not only has she been out of the sport for a year, she also was injured and in a boot, cast or brace most of the year before.  Competitive soccer isn’t a sport that a two year hiatus is good idea.  I knew that if she returned she would return at the rec level.  I also knew Sarah would not like that.  Sarah is a fierce competitor.

Despite my white lies about soccer I never lied to her about swimming.  I have told her every day for a year that if she continues to work hard she has as much potential as either of her sisters.

I envy the parents whose kids swim and are only motivated by their own times, regardless of how slow they may be.  Having two sisters – one older, one younger – who are making Junior Olympics, Zones and other age group qualifier meets, Sarah is not stupid.  She knows that she has never made a single cut.  Not for lack of effort and has had MORE than her fair share of close calls.  But we all know close doesn’t count.

I have spent many races praying to the swim gods for that child.  Just one.  One perfect race.  I never ask for too much.  The swim gods also never deliver.  I guess they too believe hard work trumps all else.

Last Saturday Sarah swim 100 breast and came with in a second of our Holiday Invitation and the JO time.  Again, close but not quite.  On Sunday she was swimming 50 and 200 breast, two more races I thought she had a shot to make.  Saturday night she had a horrible stomach ache and I knew several kids in her group were plagued with a stomach bug.  I was worried when she went to bed early that Sunday wouldn’t be.

She woke Sunday feeling great.  Chris took her to the meet, I was going to Sophie’s session.  Prepared with the timeline, meet mobile and several friends and coaches on deck all cheering her on I knew she was in good hands.  Come race time I said my final prayer to the swim gods.

Three texts hit my phone at once.  I almost didn’t want to know.  That is a total lie.  I was dying.

Sarah did it.  She made the JO cut in 50 breast.  And not by a tiny bit.  By a full second.  Everything came together for her.  The pride I felt was indescribable.   There are just no words.

I’m grateful that she finally believes me – that if you work hard you will achieve success.  Sarah has many more good swims in her and I believe that by March she will have a full compliment of qualifying times for JO’s.  I absolutely believe that to be true.

On the other hand, I have been carrying around some concern.  How am I going to respond when she wants to make a return to travel soccer?

On the way to swim yesterday she asked me “instead of going back to soccer I was thinking about joining the middle school track team, can I do that and still swim?”

While I am convinced the swim gods hate me perhaps the soccer gods love me.

Last weekend was indeed Sarah’s time.

You knew there would be days like this…

Grace and Sophie both qualified for a NAGs meet hosted by our club.  It is an honor to make the meet, the top 3 swimmer in each event are invited to compete for each club.  The meet is set up by age rather than age group.  Grace’s birthday is after the meet (today to be exact) so she was excited to swim as a 13 year old.  She swam 4 events (the max) along with 2 relays.  Little girl qualified for 100 fly and was quite proud of herself.

Grace had “decided” that her goal was to make sectionals before her 14th birthday.  In other words, last weekend.  The swim gods were not in favor of this idea.  She only had one best time for the weekend – in 50 free.  The rest of her swimmers were pretty average, some even sloppy.

It would be easy to say her head wasn’t in the meet.  That might have been the case.  Or she was too much in her own head to succeed in the meet.  I’m not sure we will ever know but she was fairly disappointed with her swims.

Talking to one of my favorite swim moms ever, we found ourselves asking the same question.  How is it that after all of the hours, days, weeks and even years of hard practice do kids still come and swim like they are 9?  In Grace’s case we certainly don’t blame her coaches.  They have worked with her for 3 straight years on her sloppy turns.  The coach before them still shakes her head in the summer when she sees Grace turn.  She is a far better long course than short course swimmer – further proof that the technical aspect of her turns are doing her in.

There are days when Grace asks herself “should I take up field hockey”.  There are meets where I ask myself “is there a field hockey taxi magnet”.  This was one of those times.

Grace came out of the meet saying she was never swimming backstroke again.  Freestyle has taken over as her lead stroke but backstroke has always been her “thing”.  She has a fantastic fly when she works on it.  Perhaps she is right, perhaps she should put backstroke on the back burner and start to work on her fly.  She was pretty adamant that she was done with backstroke.  I personally was just glad she wasn’t giving up swimming this week.

Practice last night was an endurance practice, all sets were freestyle.  Imagine my surprise when Grace did an hour and a half of slow, precise backstroke.  She has a travel meet this weekend and she is swimming 100 and 200 back.  Perhaps the swim gods will take mercy on my poor child and grant her a sectionals cut.  Nothing wrong with it 4 days after your 14th birthday.

Grace has been called “amazing Grace” in the past and she is nothing short of that.  She is truly a graceful person and to know her is to love her.  She has made me smile every day for the last 14 years and I love her to pieces.  I want the world for her.  And part of that is to learn from days like this.  Days were nothing seems to work.  If you can get up the next day and do it all again you will someday find success. I’m not buying that field hockey magnet just yet.  The sectionals cut is just a matter of time.  Literally.

Happy birthday Grace.  Thank you for making me smile.

birthday dinner

PS…Sophie also swam like she was 9.  Of course she is.  She had an awesome 100 fly.  And got a t-shirt.  That she wore for 48 straight hours.