The competition is good?

As much as I like Long Course season, it also comes at a time when parents and kids are running out of steam.  After a long winter, the weather is finally nice.  The kids would prefer to be outside with their friends over swimming laps at an indoor pool.  Parents are getting tired of the countless trips to the pool and quite honestly, I wouldn’t mind sitting on a deck sipping a margarita on a nice evening.  End of the year activities are ramping up at school, as are exams.  Summer can’t get here soon enough.

Many kids who can normally handle the competitive aspect of swimming are now cracking under the pressure of it.  Kids who have just aged up are upset because they aren’t making the qualifying meets they went to in their younger age groups.  I have seen many swimmers post best times and get out of the pool in tears because they were beat by friends.  Having been through the ups and downs of swimming, I’m very grateful that my girls are all top of their age group through summer season and have the qualifying times they need.  Everything they add on top is a bonus.  Grace is soon to leave the world of age group swimming, becoming a “senior” swimmer.  I had to explain to Sophie that it didn’t mean Grace would be swimming against her dad, an old dude in her book.

Sophie and I had a conversation recently about one of her friends who is really struggling with her friends posting better times than she does, despite the fact that she consistently gets best times based on her own swims.  Sophie said it better than I ever could.  She said “swimming is a competitive sport.  It’s what you sign up for.  You have to expect the competition and keep working harder”.

Having just swam 200 fly Long Course as a 10 year old and crushing it, Sophie was in fact beat by another 10 year old.  By nearly ten seconds.  Sophie said “you know what?  I’m glad that “T” beat me.  Had she not, I would have probably thought I was the best.  I’m not.  I also know I can do better because she did”.

Isn’t that just the most amazing way to view competition?  As a testament to what is possible?  I sit and watch “T” swim in awe.  She is so fast.   I think to myself “when does she age up?  what does she eat for breakfast?  how often does she train?”  And Soph is thinking, “yep, I can do that too, I just need to work harder”.  My 10 year old is smarter than I am.  (Of note, Sophie has been recognized by several coaches and a few friends for working harder in practice the last few weeks).

We just had a child leave our club because the parents were unhappy.   They wanted their child to be the best in the group and get extra attention and it wasn’t happening.  I don’t understand that mentality.  There shouldn’t be a “star” in swimming, especially at a young age.

The strong survive the competition of this sport.  Strong heart, strong head, strong body.  (And mom needs a margarita from time to time…)

4 thoughts on “The competition is good?

  1. Maybe the coaching didn’t match that girl’s needs? Parents thought she could improve more elsewhere? Who knows? Respect their decision.

    • I actually agree with you. I have always said that I would move one or all of my children if ever I felt that a coaching style was not meting there needs.

      That being said, I also have a great deal of respect for all coaches, parents and most importantly my kids fellow swimmers. These situations should be handled with respect and in this particular case that didn’t happen.

      In the end, it’s good that they left. A sense of calm has returned to our site. Kid is 12 and they are at their 5th swim club. It’s hard not to scratch your head…

  2. I am glad I found your blog again. This is another good post. I remember my C being on her first team. They had a conference team. Picked by the coaches. My C swam for 3 years on that team and never made a conference team. I will say the first year or so when she was 6 & 7 chances were slim. I saw a dejected girl every season not make the team when some of her friends did. It was tough. A large group of us left the team for a more serious team. This new team didn’t have a conference team or anything. It was too big. Heck we can’t go to one meet any more in a weekend. My eyes were opened when we reached the new team. We weren’t competing against a handful of kids we were really in a very large pool. Even on this team you weren’t competing against just the team it is actually the whole state.

    One family couldn’t get passed that. They were always concerned about how their swimmer stacked up against the others at our practice site. You could see it. Now I will be honest we all look at the times everyone does. What else are you going to do at a meet. At least pay attention to the kids you know. As you know in swimming kids progress at different times. In swimming you are really only trying to beat the clock. Trying to get faster every time out. Worrying about who is faster than who is worthless. There is always someone faster. And I never want my C to be the fastest kid in her lane at practice. I want her chasing someone each day pushing her to her limit.

    The funny thing is if you put those kids back on the same team now and picked a conference team it would be different. Of course a couple have quit swimming, but the all-stars at 8 aren’t always the stars at 13-14.

    • The stars at 8 are never the stars at 14. Or rarely are. I think it’s fair to look at a group at a club or site. That is a good indicator of a coaches strengths. To move a child to be the best is crazy.

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