The more things change..

I know I’m supposed to follow this up with “the more they stay the same”.   But that’s not really true.  When I first started this blog I thought it would be fun to chronicle my mindless ramblings.  Swimming was fun.  Over time, swimming became complicated – like any sport it has a lot of reward.  And a lot of heart ache.  This became more of my personal diary, a way for me to talk about my feelings and how I – as a parent – learned to deal with the challenges of a sport and my own worry.  Once again, I find myself at a crossroad.  I have been writing a lot less frequently.  I no longer have the urge to write about the hard times that come with the sport.  For now, they seemed to have passed.

We just spent two weeks on the road and I had a lot of time to reflect.

It all started with a pilgrimage to Orlando with Sarah and Sophie.  They were competing in the NCSA Age Group Championship meet – racing kids from all over the country.  We were really excited to go, although I was nervous about how the kids would do, having just swam at Junior Olympics a little over a week before.

The meet was the most fun I have ever had at a swim meet.  My kids were delightful, had a great time with friends and swam really well.  I met some incredible new friends and had a great time relaxing with friends I have known for years.  A few of had left our oldest swimmers behind and it was a great opportunity to bond with our younger kids.

Sarah at 14 was able to do 50 fly and breast as bonus events at this meet.  She has really struggled with 200 fly and 200 breast, she is very close to the sectionals cut in both and has struggled with getting them.  It has been frustrating for her.  Watching her prepare for the 50’s from the spectator section I realized how much she enjoys the sprints.  Her body language is just sheer joy, adrenaline and excitement – and she is damn good at them.  She and her coach came away with a realization that she is a sprinter and needs to spend more time working on the 100’s and that with patience the 200’s will come.  It was something she needed to feel to accept – that adrenaline rush.  The feeling she had when she swam the 50’s was all she needed to convince her.  Sarah is ready to go back to the drawing board.

Sophie on the other hand is my little fly girl.  She has loved it since she was 8 and at the age of 11, 200 fly has become her favorite race.  She has always struggled with the 50 and even the 100 but the 200 is her happy place – happy race.  She also has always had a decent 500 free.  At JOs she crushed the 500 free, dropping 18 seconds from a month before and coming close to the AAAA cut.  She did get the AAAA in 200 fly.  I was nervous how she would do in Orlando having just done really well in both races. That was needless because she did amazing in both races, along with everything else she swam.  Sophie, unbeknownst to any of us until this meet, is a distance swimmer!  And loves it.  Her training will change in for the long course season and she will focus more on the distance events.

Both Sarah and Sophie rose to the challenge of swimming back to back championship meets. They successfully swam 4 days of prelims and finals, having consistently better swims in finals than the morning sessions.  They finished the meet as strong as they started despite living out of suitcases and in a hotel.  They slept well, ate right and napped when they needed to.  This was our fist real travel meet and it was great to see that they didn’t come unglued.  They also learned to celebrate what they are good at!

Even more importantly, they made new friends and cheered on their entire team – and each other.  Despite missing the 200 fly sectionals cut the day before, Sarah was proud of her little sister who did get it in finals the following day.  It was certainly the highlight of the meet for me, the time was permanently stuck in my head from the night before and my reaction when I looked at the clock was “holy shit my 11 year old just got a sectionals cut”.  Turns out her coach and sisters had the same reaction!

After the meets completion, I picked up Grace from the airport in Ft. Lauderdale.  Grace was fortunate and was able to go to Colorado Springs to the Olympic Training facility with her coach and teammates while we were in Orlando.  She had a wonderful time.  The food was amazing, the workouts hard, Colorado Springs beautiful and being on her own was great.  She is 16.  Need I say more?  I can’t.  That is all I know!  And I’m good with that.  She is 16.  She arrived in Ft. Lauderdale after a week there healthy, happy and smiling.  She also did her own laundry and arrived with a well packed suitcase full of clean clothes.

We spent another week hanging out as beach bums in DelRay, visiting my parents – going no where near a pool.  It was wonderful to have the down time – most days the girls (and I) slept until noon.

I had 18 hours in the car on the way home to contemplate life.  In years past, my thoughts would have been filled with concern.  Concern my kids were happy or they were in the right group, had the right coach, were on the right team…Life has changed.  I’m teaching a 16 year old how to drive.  Once she does, the drive to and from practice will be hers alone.  She will have the time to think and contemplate.  She’s such a happy kid, confident and secure in who she is.  I’m going to miss the car rides to and from practice.  Don’t tell her that.

Next spring break will likely be filled with college visits.  I’m terrified – I have no idea how to help a kid pick a college or even get in to one.  In the meantime, I’m enjoying every second of every moment.  Life is good.  Things changed.  Nothing stayed the same.