Goals, dreams, heartbreaks, challenges

It’s been a rough six months. I have sat here for ten minutes trying to come up with an opening line and everything I type is just sugar coating the truth. The truth is the last six months have been awful. And amazing.  And above all else, really challenging.

My younger two girls have had a great year.  They both have far surpassed any goals that they had set for themselves, both making zones and seeing a lot of success along the way.  There have been many exciting moments. They have made finals at some big meets, qualified for zones, and both qualified for Coaches Long Course – a county wide meet that only the top 8 swimmers in each age and stroke qualify for.  Having seen Grace qualify for these events over the years, they understand the significance of these things.  Sarah and Sophie have both had a fantastic season but it has not been without disappointment.  Most recently, the Coaches Long Course meet was rained out after the free style event and Sarah didn’t get an opportunity to swim breast, Sophie her fly.  Too add to their disappointment, Grace swam free style and was awarded a big, beautiful, shiny medal.  Neither of them did particularly well at the summer champs meet.  Sarah’s breast stroke was off, the coaches were tweaking it and she didn’t have good swims.  Sophie swam like the ten year old she is, she lost her goggles on her 100 fly and due to a sloppy starter, she was not on the block for her 400 free.  She jumped up and dove in but everyone had a good 15 second lead on her at that point.  She did swim a beautiful 200 fly, a 12 and under event.  She was the only 10 year old to swim it and needless to say, she impressed me on her willingness to swim it, let alone do it well.

Grace has had a really rough year.  In September she had dreams of making sectionals before turning 14.  Her birthday came and went, and that sectionals cut became more and more elusive.  Her times through the fall and early spring remained consistent.  Flat, yet consistent.  In April she made a bold move and moved into the National Training Group.  She took on a harder training schedule – more distance and more practice.  She was dedicated to the practice group and has worked hard.  We knew going in that we should not expect time drops for quite a while, that her body needed to adapt.  What we didn’t expect was that she would be swimming slower than she was a year ago.  I keep hearing that this is normal but it is heart breaking.  For her.  And for me.  She has a had a few shining moments but they are far and few between and not enough to help hold hope.  She is discouraged and frustrated.

We have pushed her pretty hard to ensure she wants to stay in the sport.  We gave her permission to quit.  She lost her mind.  We needed to see that.  The fight in her is still there.  We gave her permission to change groups.  What we didn’t prepare for was her asking to change sites, groups and clubs.

She wants to move to a new team.   One that is significantly more expensive.  Much further away.  And logistically a nightmare for us (me).  I really want to give her this opportunity.  I want to say yes.  But for now I have to say no.

One of Grace’s issues is that she has some technical problems.  She tends to swim sloppy.  Everyone that has ever coached Grace adores her.  They also cringe when she swims.  There comes a point when you have to accept responsibility as a swimmer for these issues.  We can’t blame the coaches, they have all gone above and beyond the call of duty to help her out.  Grace at some point needs to square up with the fact that she needs to change the way she swims.   Oh.  And that point is now.

We turned down her request to move.  We made a pact with her.  We are meeting with her coach to develop an action plan.  We are going to hire an independent coach to work with her one on one.  She has to stay on course until her birthday, November 5th.  She will leave the world of age group swimming and if she does proves to us through her swimming that she wants this, we will move her anywhere she wants to go (I’m up for California but I think the territory will be limited to Maryland).

My life will be a living hell if she makes the changes she needs to in order for this move to happen.  And I am totally fine with that.  She told us last night that she hates us and that we are the worst parents that ever walked the face of the earth.  I think she meant it.  She is a resilient little shit though, today she wanted to go to the mall.  Oh and wanted to know when she could start the private coaching.  My money is on Grace.  She can do this.  For her own sanity, she has to.  I love her to the ends of the earth.

AMeetVsDarnestownGAM182-vi

 

 

Whose birthday is it?

Only the die hard swim at 5:30 AM.  Only the dedicated swim on a holiday.  And the crazy?  They swim at 5:30 AM on the 4th of July in a steady, cold rain.  My kids were none too happy that today wasn’t the day we “accidentally” missed our alarm.

Photo: You might be a badass if you swim in the rain on the 4th.

It is a tradition in our club that birthdays are celebrated with Donuts.  I saw it fitting that today after practice the kids had donuts.  Many of them were confused, knowing it wasn’t Sarah or Sophie’s birthday.  A few understood right away, some as they were leaving.

 

Kelly Hoffman Elliott's photo.

And some?

Photo: It's a Swim, Eat, Sleep kind of dayIt was going to take a long nap.

Happy Birthday to our Independence.  Hope you all have a happy 4th of July!

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The crack of dawn

Last Friday morning I was awakened by the most glorious sunlight streaming in my bedroom window.  I could hear birds chirping.  For half a second I thought I was dreaming.  And they panic hit.  My heart rate soared and I grabbed my phone.  I had ten missed texts.

“where are you”
“are you up”
“we are outside”
“are you alive”
“hello”
“hello?”…”hello?”…”hello?”…”hello?”…”hello?”…

Because the girls swim at different pools we have an elaborate carpool system set up.  Not ONE but TWO people had come to our house at 5AM to get my girls (remind me to fire Teddie as a watchdog) – we not only slept through our alarm but also people beating on our door and ringing our bell.

After the panic subsided I was hit with another wave of it.  I was responsible for bringing three kids home from the practice Sarah and Sophie attend.  I knew that it was game over for Sophie, she needs a solid 15 minutes to get up and doesn’t do well with any variation of the schedule.  Grace’s practice was too far away for me to get her to it.  So I drug Sarah, half asleep to the car.  She put her suit on in the car, all the while crying because she was hungry, had to pee, had not brushed her teeth and was going to be embarrassed for being 30 minutes late.  Me?  I hadn’t had a drop of coffee, the car needed to use autopilot, I was in uncharted territory driving without caffeine.   I did a rolling stop in front of the pool and told Sarah to use the restroom and then race downstairs.  I would park and come apologize to the coaches.

By the time I had parked, Sarah was back at the door.  Tears streaming down her face.

“Mom, you are at the WRONG pool”….

At this point, I couldn’t torture her anymore.  I took her back home, told her to go back to bed and made a pot of coffee.  I filled my 20 OZ Hello Kitty Tervis Tumbler with coffee and raced to the correct pool to bring my carpool kids home.  When I walked in I saw panic on the coaches faces as they scanned the pool wondering where my kids were.  By 8AM I was in full blown “worse day ever” mode.

An intense workout at the gym helped soften the blow and I then took the girls to lunch and shopping for birthday presents for dad.  We had a quiet dinner at home and by 8PM all peace was restored.  (A glass of wine also helped).

At the swim meet the next day my girls were on fire.  They all swam really well.  I was asked in front of the coach what they did differently to which I laughed and said “they skipped practice yesterday”.  The coached joked that I shouldn’t tell people that.  I was then asked what they had for breakfast.

Yeah, they had donuts.

We all have our moments.  And everything is always fine in the end…Glad to have worst day ever over.  (#136 worst day ever)