It’s nice to be home

Pulling up to the pool for Grace’s first meet with her new team, I was overcome with a wave of emotion. I felt a little out of place, I don’t know many of the parents in her group. I do know a handful of parents from other sites but many of them weren’t at this particular meet. NCAP pulls kids from all over Maryland and Virginia, I’m not sure I will ever know too many people. RMSC is a large team but all of the kids come from Montgomery County. Having three kids in the program for many years I know (or at the very least have seen) every one at the meets. These are the same people we swim against in the summer, go to school with, see at the gym or grocery store. I’m a very social person by nature and I was definitely outside my comfort zone. I opted to time during the first session to pass the time. I wasn’t sure how Grace would react to her first meet with the new team.

She was fine. I dropped her off at the door and got a quick wave goodbye.

I parked and drank my coffee. The meet was at a pool we swam at many years ago. Grace and Sarah were just getting started in swimming and swam for a very small club. I always park in the same place at this pool. It’s a lot that is on a slight hill just above a door that grants direct pool access. Being a meet day, the door was propped wide open. Just beyond the door was the area where her old team sat.

Grace always referred to her little group as the children under the stairwell. There were never more than 15 or so kids from this club at a meet session. They certainly didn’t get choice seating. I suspect a rat or two made its way through base camp. The team was so small that they rarely had enough kids to field a 4 man relay. After a year, Grace made the decision she needed something more social. That was what led us to RMSC. It’s also what led her away this year.

I couldn’t help but remember our humble beginnings with swim. I especially had no idea what we were doing. One thing that Grace always knew – she wanted bags tags, tie dyed championship t-shirts, zones jackets, to make finals and to swim in an A relay. And to have friends. She did all of that and more.

As I walked into the meet I remembered why Grace swims. Because she loves it. It wasn’t her best meet. It also wasn’t her worst. But she had fun. And she smiled. Her swim bag zippers are covered in bag tags. She has accomplished a lot and grown into a woman in all her years of swimming. But at this meet I saw her as my ten year old baby who swam at that pool all those years ago.

The funny thing is, I always hated that pool. And I found myself walking in with a smile. Maybe it is because I don’t know anyone. It was kind of fun to sit alone. In silence. And in thought. It felt like home. For Grace.

8 thoughts on “It’s nice to be home

  1. We just had our first big meet this past weekend too. My Grace broke her ankle (growth plate) at the end of the summer and was in a cast for a month. Seems missing a month of swim practice is a big deal! She certainly didn’t swim her best – especially those swims she expected to do well at. She’s not great at fly, but took 7 sec off 100 fly. Yet added 3 sec!!!!! to her 50 free – she missed the start all together.

    Like you, we also moved from a very small swim club to a much larger one. This is our second year at the larger club. Now there are lots of other kids for my kids to swim with/against in practice. Lots of great social connections and fun times.

    What a crazy and wonderful sport this is!

    • That is great to take that much time off on fly! My middle daughter battle growth plate breaks and stress fractures for a while. It is not fun. Hope your Grace has healed and has no more problems!

  2. A couple of weeks ago my swimmer and I were reminiscing about when she was 7-9 year range and how she didn’t know how all the scoring was done a meet. She used to think if she won her heat then she won. Of course she would get a heat prize. She has learned a lot during her time as a swimmer. And has really grown up.

    My swimmer started on a small club as well. While it was a good starter club it isn’t one for serious swimmers. But that is where she started. Swimming in the 6 & under races for 25 back and free. They were so cute back then. And yes we didn’t always have enough at weekend meets for relays either.

    The nice thing is that pool where she started will be where she will swim HS next year. So it will be like coming home.

  3. Our move to the bigger team was not a success. No one in particular to blame. There were many factors at play beyond ability. Now we are back “home” with the coach and team where he had the most success. There is not just one best way to do this crazy sport. Everyone is trying to find their way!

    • We left the small team four years ago for a large team. Grace switched to another large team recently. We still have lots of friends who are at the small team and are doing well.

      I believe 100% in doing what is beat for your kids. I have kids swimming for two different teams and firmly believe this is what is beat for them!!!

  4. I enjoy reading your blogs. They seem to help me feel like I am not the only swim mom who deals with these issues. My daughter started swimming for a small club at the age of 11. Last year at age 16 she moved to a much bigger club in a nearby town. She moved on her own because she wanted more challenge. This year she is trying out for University teams. I think the move she made at 16 really helped her to be more independent and adapt to change. She loves her new team and coach. Sometimes change is good and we still hang out with and see our old team at meets. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. Good luck to your swimmers this season and keep up the blogs

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