This is not my lane

Sophie has always liked a schedule. Even more so, she doesn’t like it when her schedule is thrown off. I have learned over the years that I need to give her adequate notice when things are different than she expects.

When she was five, Sarah and Grace were swimming with a small team that also had a lesson program. I put Sophie in lessons once a week to prepare her for summer swim. Her lesson were in the well and Alec was her coach. One day Alec was out and his buddy Jorge took over for him. Sophie refused to get in the pool – Alec was her coach. Not Jorge. She knew Jorge, liked him, and thought he was a perfectly fine swim coach. He just wasn’t her coach. No less than ten people tried to coax her in the pool. Me? I knew better. It wasn’t happening.

Fast forward five years years not much had changed. Sophie is comfortable on her team, knows all of the coaches and is fine with any of them coaching her. She also knows what lane she is in, who is in front of her, who is behind her, what the interval is, what day the need fins, the exact hour in which she is eligible to move up to the next group and exactly how many ice cubes she needs in her Gatorade. I like to run a tight ship but sometimes she exhausts me.

Sophie practices four times a week – her group offer s five with a minimum of three. She goes to four. Every week. The same four. Tuesday through Friday. But not Sunday. Because it is too early. And it’s never been negotiable. She skips on the rare occasion. Like last Friday. She has a sleepover birthday party to go to. Missing one practice won’t kill you…right?

So, she got invited to a very good friends birthday dinner this Friday. She initially said yes but now she is having second thoughts. She can’t miss two Fridays in a row. She went so far as to tell her friend she couldn’t go after initially saying yes. You see, there is a meet this weekend. And on Friday before a meet they practice starts and turns. It’s an easy practice. And one she doesn’t miss…

I’m not really sure what to do with this. I’m a firm believer that practice is important. But after seeing the struggles Grace went through after committing to too much practice too early on I also think life is short, enjoy being a kid while you can. Sophie sees the meet as big one. It’s the IMX meet and she is seeded pretty well. She is also ten. I admire her commitment to practice and I also understand her need to adhere to “her” schedule. She is honestly happier when she does things according to plan. I’ll let the final decision be hers.

Soon enough she will be changing groups and going from the fastest lane to the slowest. She only has two more meets as a ten year old – IMX and JO’s. She will do well at both and as much as I know this isn’t the moment she will remember in swimming I also have to remember that to her, right now, it is.

Whatever choice she makes, it will be the right one. I need to let her enjoy her being in the fast lane. It doesn’t last forever. And lucky for me, she gets that.

Seeing how the grass grows…

The life of a swim mom is crazy. Having three girls that swim adds to the madness. This year we have added another layer (or two) to the insanity – Grace not only swims for a different club than Sarah and Sophie, but she also is swimming for her high school swim team. It’s been a season full of meets, at least one every weekend for the last several months. Sarah had a travel meet in Delaware and Grace had a meet in Baltimore. These are the first meets outside of PVS meets that I have attended besides zones.  The high school meets are also completely different than what I am used to.

PVS (Potomac Valley Swim) is notorious for having fast swimmers and well run meets. It’s nice to have great meets, whether it is in your home pools or in your neighbors backyard. The furthest we travel for meets is 45 minutes to the University of Maryland. It’s been really easy for us up until now and we have always had great competition at our meets.  The downside is we swim against the same kids, month after month, year after year.  I could probably hand write the psych sheet for our meets.  It’s that predictable.

Our high school is in a relatively new area – the school is only ten years old and our team is still relatively small, especially by Montgomery County standards. We only have about thirty kids and only a handful of year round swimmers. We moved up to Division III last year. It’s been really fun for Grace – she has gone undefeated and set an individual school record and has helped break the record on two relays. It’s been fun watching her swim in a less competitive environment. I haven’t seen her smile and laugh that much since she was 9! The meets are also short and sweet, what’s not to love?  It’s also fun seeing kids experience swimming for the first time or swimming their first 100 or even 500 free.  It’s more about the sense of accomplishment.  Because our high schools don’t have pools, we end up having meets at pools throughout the county.  Many of the pools don’t even have spectator seating.  They certainly don’t have touch pads or heat sheets.  Race results are written on a card with handwritten swimmers names.  It’s pretty low budget. No one seems to mind.

I compare that to the USA-S meets we have attended outside our LSC.  One was quite honestly the longest and slowest meet I have ever attended.  The other was a mid season trials/finals meet – not a lot of best times but a great opportunity to race finals outside of a championship meet.   What really surprised me was how much the parents from our team complained at one of the meets.  It was a slow meet, the sessions were way too long, the seating was awful and there were no concessions.  Oh and wait…we had to pay to get in.  Five whole dollars.  It was Sarah’s first travel meet and the group of us that travelled together had an absolute blast.  Sarah made some incredible memories with her friends and despite not getting many best times, left the meet loving swimming even more than she did when the meet started.  I had a great time road tripping with friends and having wine and pizza in the hotel lobby.

I guess what I noticed the most is that so much of these meets is about perspective.  Swimming isn’t the most exciting sport to spectate – and it certainly isn’t the most pleasant place to sit for hours on end.  But if you decide you are miserable you will be.  Our children follow our lead, some of the kids had a great time at the travel meet.  Others were miserable.  If nothing else comes out of it, I really hope they gain some perspective as to how lucky we really are that by and large, the grass is never greener.  More importantly, as parents we need to remember these meets aren’t about us.