Breaking up is hard to do.

We met with Grace’s coach today and told him.  I had rehearsed the speech many times in my head.  I had a bunch of things planned to say.  They all came out at once.  I was petrified he would be mad.

He wasn’t.  He was so kind. He was sad to see her go but also felt that we made a really solid decision for her.  He completely understood and most importantly told her the door was always open should she want to come back.  The discussion was frank and honest.  I should be so relieved.  I came home and cried instead.

In the end, I am grateful that it was that painful.  My kids are so fortunate to have such amazing coaches.  It’s a good problem to have.

Snap back to reality

After zones we headed out on our annual Florida road trip.  We all needed some down town and we didn’t take as many pit stops on the way down as we have in past years.  The girls were so tired that they slept all the way there.  It was a peaceful ride.   The girls really enjoyed the beach and even more so, took advantage of the break and got some much needed sleep.  I don’t think they were up before noon once.  We spent a lot of time at the beach, shopped, ate way too much and played some fun board games with the grandparents.  Notice I didn’t make mention of a pool?

There is no doubt in my mind that we would be very happy living at the beach.  I often dream about living in Florida or California during the drive home.  This year was no exception.  Moving is a really good option at this point.  It beats dealing with reality.

The truth is, Grace is making some big changes this year, she will be switching to a new team.

This is not a decision that was made lightly.  Or in haste.  Or at least in her mind.  She has been asking us to consider this since early spring.  We are perfectly happy with where she is.  It’s a reasonably priced program, great facility, convenient and the coaches are all great people.  We met with her coach late in the summer season and left satisfied that he is running a great program.  It’s hard to justify leaving.  I have always been an advocate for the club she swims for and I expect that when word gets out some will be scratching their heads.  Some may even say we are crazy.  I’m really nervous about meeting with the coach.  Moving to California would be so much easier.  Really.

I have talked about this a lot but Grace has been very isolated the last two years, swimming with boys or girls much older than she is.  There just aren’t a lot of girls her age at our site, the few that we do have all go to school together, and have since they were 5 – Grace is definitely an outsider.

Grace spent the last few weeks of summer in tears.  Begging and pleading with us to let her move.  I exchanged emails with the coaches of a group she was interested in joining for several weeks. I was always pleased with their responses and responsiveness.  I chatted with parents who have kids in the group at meets and they were all so pleased with the group dynamic and coaching.  Grace finally wore us down and we allowed her to try a practice before zones.  And it was a game changer for her.  Fairly certain this was a done deal, I asked that she really get to know some of the girls in the group.  She did.  She loved them.  It would seem that making a decision of this magnitude would be a relief once finally made.  That was not the case.  Because we had a vacation planned and I had to tell her current coach -as well as her two previous coaches – face to face.  Vacation just stalled the inevitable.

I’m still not really sure how I am going to find the words to explain this decision.  We are leaving a group and club we can find no fault with.  It just isn’t the right fit for Grace.  Sarah and Sophie aren’t leaving and in all likelihood, they won’t.  There isn’t anything they could have done differently or better.  She just needs something different.

Grace is taking a step back, moving into less time in the water and can only stay in this group until next summer.  She is on the older end of the group.  They will focus more on her technique.  She will focus more on her own technique.  We will be watching her like a hawk.  She has to get this right.  Her coach is a female which she found really appealing and there are lots of girls her age in the group, one in particular is a very good friend of hers.  I am confident she will fit in, make friends and above all be HAPPY.

In the end, I am paying more and driving more.  It’s a small price to pay for her happiness.  We believe in her and need her to find the will within herself to find her place.

I’m petrified to tell her coach.  I wish I didn’t like him. I wish he ran a bad program.  I wish the kids and parents in the group were all awful people.  It would be so much easier.  But none of this is the case. We meet on Saturday it will truly be a relief once we have had the meeting.  I toss and turn at night trying to find the words.  I have never been in this situation and this is not going to be easy for us.  But I am convinced it is the right decision.

I’m going to do a better job of sharing my thoughts and emotions in the coming year.  As well as sharing the progress of the girls.  It is going to be interesting – kids on competing teams, pools 30 minutes apart, meets in different locations.  We are also shifting our mindset to that of quality swimming rather than getting caught up in the girls times.  I hope you will share my blog with a friend or two, I love the comments and connecting with parents and coaches who “get it”.

Good luck to all as a new season starts.

As luck would have it

Grace hasn’t done well at zones. She swam yesterday and today, adding time in both races. Sarah did well yesterday – she dropped a tiny bit in her 50 breast. Sophie, added time in her 100 fly but her stroke looked good. And she is ten.

OUr LSC makes zones really fun for the kids. It’s like camp. With a side of swimming. The kids travel by bus, stay in a hotel, eat their meals together, cheer each other on when they aren’t swimming and they wear a team uniform everywhere they go. Those that make finals go back. And the lucky ones, those that don’t make finals, they go to various activities. It’s camp pure and simple. It is also Sophie’s first time away from home. She was definitely nervous. But also quite ready for the experience. It truly is the experience of a lifetime for these kids. They wear their zones jacket with pride for a month afterwards. Despite the fact that it is the dead of summer.

Chris and I drove separate cars to the meet. I’m taking the girls to Florida for our one and only summer vacation. Chris will head back to work. It was the first time all summer I have been alone. I drove in silence. Deep in thought. As we move into a new season, a lot of thoughts are rolling through my head. Decisions, have been made, indecision and regret soon follow. I have experienced guilt and gratitude over this decision. But when all is said and done, thoughts done being rolled around, I am still at piece with the decisions we have made. And then I change my mind again. I’m looking forward to our vacation but I’m also anxious for September. We can put the thoughts behind us and begin the real work.

Grace is going to make a move backwards. She is going to spend the better part of next year mastering the basics of swimming. We are absolutely convinced it going to be a game changer for her. Sarah and Sophie will benefit from this as well. We have learned from past mistakes and we are going to stop making those mistakes again.

As a swim family, we are going to take a year off from “times”. We are going to stop focusing on best times, adding time, dropping time, qualifying time and everything else related to a number. It’s easy to get caught up in that number but it really isn’t the best predictor of success. It’s been a tough lesson to learn but lots if people can swim fast. Very few can swim well. And those that do will find the success in the long term.

Our eye is on a new prize. We want our children to swim well this year. And with that, they shouldn’t need any luck at all.

Here’s to new beginnings.

The silver lining

The more my kids swim, the more I hate summer swim team. Nice huh? I am so jealous of the kids who swim “B” meets. They give out heat winner ribbons and the meets aren’t scored. I remember being at a B meet – Sophie was all of six years old and finally broke a minute on her 25 back. She is now doing it in 18 seconds. And pissed off that it is too slow.

I go into summer swim season pretty excited. And by week 3 I am completely over it. It can make you completely crazy.

Summer swim completely favors sprinters. The distances are usually shorter than what the kids are used to. Grave swims 50’s which is unheard of for 13-14 and poor Sophie swims 25’s at 9-10. Sarah, swimming as an 11-12 is In her glory.

Divisionals – the final meet of the season – was a mess for us. Sarah did great. Sophie did a decent job. And Grace spent most of the meet in tears, getting beat by kids who can’t take her in a 100 and certainly not In a 200. But in 50? Grace didn’t stand a chance. It was heartbreaking. Grace put her arms around me when the meet was over. Head on my shoulders. Tears flowing.  I was ready for summer swim to be over.  Grace really was at a breaking point, she was adamant that she was not going to continue swimming in the fall.  To be honest, I thought it was a good idea.

They say the “lucky” ones make All-Stars.  The top 16 in the county for each age and stroke compete against one another. This meet is held the weekend after divisionals.  Day 1 is All-Star relays.  Day 2, the individual strokes.  I’m not really sure the lucky ones go to all-stars, the week after divisionals we see a mass exodus of swimmers, everyone heads out on vacation.  Aside from those of us “lucky” enough to compete for one more week.

The girls were each in three relays, several competing together.  They did really well in all of them, getting a few seconds place finishes and all of the relays shaved off time.  They swam in a medley relay together and did really well.  It was fun to see them come together in competition.  I’m not used to that.

The following day was the individual competition.  Grace had two solid swims, swimming right at and just below her seed times in free and back.  Sarah took off over half a second, besting her team record and earning a plaque for her third place finish. Sophie shaved a little time off her fly and was beyond thrilled to never have to swim 25 fly again.  She may be the only kid in MCSL who would prefer a 50 and ideally would love to swim 100!  Everyone left smiling and happy.  More importantly, Grace left with a renewed interest in swimming in the fall.  She also was about to launch a one man crusade to change her path in swimming….

Vacation time?  Not so fast.  Monday morning, the girls had practice.  They leave for Zones on August 5th.   And then the new season starts September 1st.  Swimming feels like a perpetual season.  Although I am pretty sure we are about to embark on a season of change.