Somebody that I used to know…

Yesterday, Grace swam 100 Backstroke at JO’s.  She had a great swim – knocked off 2 seconds which moved her up 34 places.  Grace is a pro at big meets.  Generally I drop her off at the door for meets but this time she parked with me. Good thing too, the meet was at University of Maryland and I couldn’t remember where the parking deck was.  She, of course, knew exactly where it was.  Six hours later she got a good laugh when I got turned around and we ended up in a dead-end parking lot.  Sometimes I swear she is smarter than me.  I glanced at her on deck as she was preparing to warm up and I was struck by how similar Sophie looks to her.  The older Sophie gets the more I see Grace in her.  For some reason today though I saw Grace’s eight year old self on deck.  I think it was her smile.  While grown up, she is still a little girl.

Last weekend after Sophie’s meet, Grace reminded me that when she was 8 I HATED swimming.  I stopped her.  I am not sure hate is a strong enough word for how I felt about swimming.  I laughed and told the tale of the last meet I went to for two years.  Grace was not quite 8.  Sarah 5 and Sophie was 2.5.  Like idiots, we decided the whole family should watch Grace swim, the meet was at our home pool – close to home.

I over estimated the entertainment value of swim meets and under estimated the need for entertainment and snacks for Sarah and Sophie.  In fact, I brought none.  I over dressed for the meet, assuming that since it was cold outside I would need to wear heavy clothing.  Chris being the swim dad that he is – immediately volunteered to time.  Leaving me with two small children, no cash or heat sheet and wisely no car keys – I would have bolted had transportation been available.

It was the longest 3 hours of my life.   If you have even taken small children to a meet you understand how I felt.  If you have ever been kicked by a bored, hot, hungry small child you also understand.  It was miserable and I missed all of Grace’s swims, I had no idea what she was swimming, let alone heat or lane.

I didn’t go to another swim meet for two years.  It was that bad.  Before you judge me, I went to soccer games, Girl Scout camping trips and was room moms.  I just was noticeably absent from swim meets.  So was Grace.  She didn’t compete at an indoor meet for nearly two years.  During that period we joined a summer swim team.  A few things happened.  I learned about swimming and came to understand it.  My kids also got older and more manageable.  By the time Grace returned to year round competition I was a full-blown swim mom.   I actually enjoy going to meets.

As I looked on deck yesterday and saw Grace I was overwhelmed with a sense of pride.  She has great coaches and wonderful friends.  We swim in a very supportive environment and it makes life so much better.  Grace tends to get very serious during meets but yesterday she was being goofy and having fun.  It reminded me of someone I used to know…her 8 year old self.  I am glad that she has matured but also love the playful side of her.  She is still a kid at heart.

Can’t believe I am saying this

Day two with the teenager was a walk in the park.  It was just last year that I was always nervous when she swam.  Up until recently Sarah didn’t really care about swimming, she just did it for the socializing and she enjoyed the exercise.  Sophie was 7…if we could get through a meet with her with no tear we considered it a success.  The tide has shifted and all three girls are very focused on their races and success in the pool.

This isn’t to say I don’t care about Grace’s swimming any more.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I am in awe of her dedication and focus to the sport.  She has been swimming consistently since she was 6.  It hasn’t come easy to her all the time either.  She has weathered unpredictable coaches, long plateaus and years of girl drama.  And still loves it.

Grace is becoming a young woman.  She used to need pumping up before meets and lots of encouragement.  She has found that inner fight on her own.  As well as inner peace.

Going into this meet she only had one JO cut and about 7 she was close to.   She had to pick five events and struggled with which five to choose.

During the morning session she swam 50 and 200 free.   While she didn’t make the JO cuts she took time off in both events and was pleased with her results.  After a quick rest at home we went back to the pool – stopping at Starbucks for her “go-go juice” – some kind of soy vanilla frozen thing.  She was concerned about how she would do in the afternoon session, she had 200 IM, 200 Back and 100 fly in pretty rapid succession.  Her coach and her dad suggested scratching one of the events.  She was furthest from the JO time in 100 fly but it was the last event and the one she most wanted to swim.

My advice is always different.  I am not a swimmer – I was in sales in my professional career.  My motto?  Simple, throw a lot of shit against the wall and see what sticks.  Simply put, swim your heart out in all three races and see what happens.

Her IM – the race she debated scratching was awesome.  She only needed to take off a second for the JO cut.  All was going well until she hit breaststroke.  I think she was tapering or something.  Not her best performance.  She added a second.

This is when I usually get really nervous.  But I didn’t.  Her next race was 200 back and I knew she would get the JO time.  She had swum it twice recently, once getting an oops DQ and once slipping on her start.  She had run through her excuses and it was time to swim it well.  And she did, taking of almost 4 seconds and getting her time.

She warmed down for 6 minutes and was back on the block for 100 fly.  She had a great swim, took off enough time to qualify for Dolan but missed JO’s.  And just like that we were out of there.

She was thrilled with her swims.  Having two JO times she gets her bag tag and t-shirt but also gets to swim at Spring Champs.  She swims great when rested and is excited about both meets.

After the meets they get a two-week break and we head into LC season.  Grace loves long course and is excited for the change of pace.  The car ride home was lively conversation.   About shopping.  Teenagers are great.  Did I just say that?

Did someone say showdown?

This coming weekend is our February qualifier meet for kids who are trying to make JO cuts.  Twelve and unders have a double session on Saturday, and the older kids a double session on Sunday.

Grace decided to make life difficult.  She is less than half a second from the cut in 7 events.  She can only swim 5 at this meet.  In the end it is a roll of the dice deciding what to swim.  I am not worried about her, she has been working her tail off in practice and she will do well.

As luck would have it – I have two kids who are under 12 so they are in the same meet.  This rarely happens.  Sarah and Sophie are both swimming Saturday.

Sophie who is 8 is taking on her first 100 fly.  She was willing to give it a shot and even if she doesn’t get the JO cut she will be close.  Keep in mind it is a 9-10 event!  I was happy she was agreeable to swimming it, 100 fly is something a lot of kids are afraid of.  She is nervous but also excited to give it a try.

In the afternoon Sarah is swimming 3 events and Sophie 1.   The inevitable has happened – they are both swimming 50 fly.  That isn’t the good part.  They are seeded next to each other.  Not one single kid could fill that .18 gap between the two.  Not a single kid.  Shit.  And don’t forget, the 8-year-old is faster than the 11-year-old.

I would love to tell you that these two don’t compete.  That would be complete bullshit.  Sarah and Sophie are in competition with one another even in their sleep.  Their lives are a constant battle of who is cuter, smarter, faster and right.  “No you aren’t” isn’t the most common phrase spoken between the two.  When they are actually speaking to each other.  It isn’t love – hate.  It might be a stretch to call it  like – hate.

You are probably wondering what things are like at my house right now.  I am glad you asked.  They are wonderful.  Because I haven’t told them.  Denial is bliss.  I don’t plan to tell them.  They will figure it out Saturday.

They are both fierce competitors with something to prove.  This is an individual sport.  They can fight it out in the pool.  I don’t think it is going to be pretty.  But I do expect it to be gloriously awesome.

I think we will take two cars though.   Just in case.

 

 

Girl Power

The countdown continues. Sophie swam at her second to last “mini meet”. Mini Champs in April will be our forever fond well to the 8 and under set. Sophie will be 9 in April.

This weekend the kids swam in a “gender blender” meet. In other words, girls vs boys. Sophie was excited, there were a few boys she was ready to have a showdown with.

Saturday she was swimming 50 fly as one of her events. She was going for the JO cut. I was pleased that both Sarah and Grace came to cheer her on. Grace may have done it to get out of her 630 AM practice and Sarah may have come for the donuts, I will never know for sure. But they did come to cheer.

Sophie had a good day, three best times, including a two second drop in her 50 fly. She missed her goal by a second but has one more meet – and two more years – to work on it.

After the meet Sarah went to lunch with dad and I took Grace and Sophie. I decided to go ahead and talk to Sophie about the white elephant in the room, she beat Sarah’s best time by .20. I told her if she had any thought of celebrating this was her moment. She laughed and said “I don’t care about Sarah – I beat every boy but one – and I beat all of them in my group!” Apparently 8 year old boys like to talk smack.

Sunday she tanked. I guess she did what she wanted to on Sunday. She did take. Post meet nap, something she hasn’t done in a while.

We later learned the girls out scored the boys. For the first time ever! Go girl power. Better showdown than the Super Bowl. If you are an 8 year old girl.

Sarah congratulated her on her swim. I suspect her 50 fly at the February meet will be amazing. I saw a little spark in her eye. But no fireworks in the house. Thank you for that swim gods!

Some you just don’t forget

Sophie has a meet this weekend. The annual Gender Blender meet. Boys vs. Girls. Sophie cannot wait for this meet. Me? I am a nervous wreck. She is trying to make the 50 fly JO cut at this meet. She will be the first kid in our family to get a 9-10 JO cut at 8 if she does it. And since we are done having kids, she would also be the only.

I will be the first to admit when my kids have a pie in the sky goal. In this particular case though she has everything it takes to reach her goal. I’m worried that if she doesn’t she will be really disappointed. Without discouraging her from doing her best I have also told her that it isn’t a big deal if she doesn’t make it. She has one more shot. Oh and two more years!

Above all I told her no crying. Her memory is better than mine, she said nothing could top last year! How long ago this seems. How could I have forgotten this one?

Just add water

I am pretty confident she will do well. There are a few obnoxious boys in her group that she would like to teach a thing or two. Grace assured her that they get worse not better as they get older. Gracie’s advice? Don’t beat them. Destroy them.

Grace wants to go cheer her on. I suspect in part because she will get out of her 6:30 am practice. Sarah is even pulling for her, even though this means baby sis will be faster than her in that event.

Keep your fingers crossed for baby fly girl.

Medal and Ribbons and Trophies – oh my

I actually hate ribbons and trophies, especially when they are based solely on participation.  They become meaningless and tend to take up a lot of space.

This weekend my girls earned lots of ribbons, trophies and medals.  Some hard-fought victories and yes a few meaningless ones along the way.  There are a few I am quite proud of the girls for earning.

Grace won two medals in relays at Junior Olympics.  One second and one third place.  I am proud of her because her team enters three relays in the meets and she made the A relay for backstroke twice!

Grace also got a first place medal at Divisionals, breaking a pool record in 50 back.  Way to go Grace.

Our summer team decided to give participation trophies to all of the kids this year.  This was the first time since we joined the team four years ago.  They also gave specials awards.

Grace was the female high point winner for our team.  She learned the morning of our banquet that an award was not being given for high point.  She was disappointed.

We got to the banquet and there was a table full of trophies.  And then…a table full of big trophies.  All of the kids noticed the big ones.  It was going to be a big night.

The Junior Coaches on our team give out paper plate awards.  Sophie was presented with the Paper Plate Smiles award.  Remember, Sophie is the one who cried her entire first year of swim team!  Such a proud moment.

Later in the evening, the large trophies were handed out.  The trophies were handed out to amazing children.  A pair of friends who raised several thousand dollars for a boy on our team with leukemia.  An awesome little boy who cheers for every kid, on our team or not.

The last trophy was most improved.  I really wouldn’t expect any of my girls to receive this.  We are year round swimmers and as such, there is very little improvement in a 6 week time span.  Most club swimmers get tired and start getting slower at the end of the season.

I was wrong.  Grace was awarded the trophy for the most improved.  I was shocked.  She has always been a top swimmer on our team.

She was awarded the trophy for maturity both in and out of the water.  One week Grace offered to swim breast stroke instead of fly even though she would have gotten first in fly and ended up with second in breast.  Our top breaststroke swimmer was on vacation and without Grace we would have placed 4th at best.  She came ever day and coached preteam at 6 PM despite getting up every day at 5 AM for her own practices.  She came to every B meet and cheered on all the little kids, especially her favorite 5-year-old.  She swam with a level of confidence and maturity that she hadn’t in the past.  She was serious, dedicated and focused in the water and had fun outside the water.  In all honesty, she was a lot faster than she was last year.

I credit the coach for awarding this to her.  It comes a year after we left her club team.  She didn’t have to give the most improved swimmer to the kid who left her program and went on to swim at another.  But she did because she earned it.

Grace did earn it.  She didn’t improve this year because we changed teams.  She improved because she wanted it.  She wanted it so bad.  She worked hard and never gave up.  She is a remarkable young lady and I am proud to be her mom.

Sarah didn’t win an award but if there was one for the kid who ate the most nachos she was a sure bet.  She has her eye on that most improved trophy for next year.  This from a kid who wanted to quit swimming eight weeks ago.  Sarah can do anything she puts her mind to.

And Sophie – I just love her smile.

The week in review

Grace swam Junior Olympics trials and finals Thursday, Friday and Sunday.  She finaled in 200, 100 and 50 back.  She blew her 100 free race and didn’t make finals or the zone time in that.  She shed a few tears.  She also swam four relays, earning a 2nd and a 3rd place medal.  Saturday she swam divisionals, one first, three seconds and a third place (free style was her archrival and nemesis this weekend).  She broke a pool record – not ours – in 50 back.  Her surprize race, she dropped 1.5 seconds in 50 fly long course and about 5 seconds in 200 back long course.  Every other swim was solid.

She swam:

50 back – 4 times
100 back – 3 times
200 back – 2 times
50 free – 3 times
100 free – 3 times
50 fly – 2 times
100 IM – 1 time

I watched her race a total of 18 times.  I watched her warm up 7 times.  National Anthem 7 times.  National Anthem sung well – never.

Sarah and Sophie each swam meets this past week – Sophie swam free, fly and back at Divisionals.  Sarah swam free and fly at Superstars and breast at Divisionals.  Sarah was dying to get that breast stroke all-star time and fell short by a few tenths of a second.  She cried for 45 minutes straight.  This from a kid who doesn’t care about swimming.  I don’t buy that story anymore.  Sophie completely tanked her fly at Divisionals.  After hearing Sarah cry for 45 minutes I was petrified of her reaction.  She walked by and ever so matter of factly said “I swam terrible” with a smile on her face.  I swear she was skipping.

A few more statistics.  Ate at Chipotle 3 times, Pizza twice, drank a glass of wine every night and gained 5 pounds.  Number of days I have gone to the gym since Sunday?  All of them.  Amount of money left in my checking account?  None.  Zones – paid for.  New cap to replace forgotten one?  Yep.

I got lucky – no one asked for a tie dye t-shirt!

About to get a pool record

And the final reach.

Five Day Bender

Wednesday night most of our team was breathing a sigh of relief that swimming was over. This is what our schedule looks like:

Wednesdy – Superstar Meet (events not being swam at Divisionals) Summer Team

Thursday – Junior Olympics Long Course Trials and Finals Club Team

Friday – Junior Olympics Long Course Trials and Finals Club Team

Saturday – Divisionals Summer Team and End of Season Banquet

Sunday – Junior Olympics Long Course Trials and Finals Club Team

Today marks day five of the swimmeetathon. Success has come in unsuspecting places. It has been a wonderful week with many updates to follow. As for now, I need a lot of coffee.

It’s a big pool. And a small world.

The weekend update.

Friday night started like any other, the middle school and elementary school carpool was in full effect. Until my neighbor, who was at the middle school, called me. The school was on lockdown, tornado cloudy things had been spotted a few miles from our school. It was also pouring down rain. I sent my husband to the elementary school to sit and wait. I did my hair. Seriously. I had just gotten out of the shower.

Grace got home late. I have a fear of being late. We hauled ass to warm ups. We were 4 minutes late. That is really late for me. She warmed up for an hour and then we sat and watched 400 free for two and a half hours. I thought 400 free long course was the most boring thing ever to watch but later in the weekend I was proven wrong and watched 200 breast. After the event finished, they warmed up again. I got to page 102 on 50 Shades of Grey. I kept the book cover hidden. I didn’t get far enough to know why I am embarrassed to be reading this but I know that I am.

At some point during the second warm up I noticed this yellow string across the pool and I literally laughed out loud. A year ago at this same meet Grace was swimming 50 back and saw the yellow string above her. Thinking it was the flags she did her underwater finish. At some point she realized it was the half way mark, she popped up and finished her race. It was really cute. Her time, not so much.

I sent her a text and reminded her of this incident. Two hours later (five hours after our arrival) when Grace finally swam 200 back, I swear I saw her smile every time she went under the yellow string. It is our little secret! She did well and we got to leave. In a torrential downpour. Fun stuff.

Saturday dad took her to the meet and he got to experience 4 warm ups. Seriously, at this point in the weekend she has warmed up 6 times for 4 races. He texted me several times that he was annoyed by the frequent warm ups. I was annoyed too. I could be finished with Mr. Grey had I gone. Maybe onto book 2. Grace swam 50 back in a relay (she did not sign up for it at this meet since she just swam it a few weeks ago). She took a few tenths of a second off her time which was a nice confidence boost. She needed some security in that zone cut.

Day three I did the drive by drop off for warm ups. And then I went shopping. I wasted most of my time looking for J.Crew when all I needed to do was call my friend Renee who could have told me there wasn’t one on the Pike. I thought the Pike had everything. I arrived fashionably late and was thrilled to find two good friends to sit outside with and enjoy the fresh air. I like people who would rather talk about plaid madras shorts over swimming. I wasn’t going to get any reading done I could see.

Grace warmed up about 34 more times and then 200 breast started. Wow is that an exciting race. We sat in the sun enjoying a nice breeze until it started to rain. There was a lady passed out face down in the grass when we ran in. She might still be there. She may have been drunk. Who came blame her, a long course meet can do that to you. We ran inside and were able to find some seats above the starting blocks. Grace had several good swims. The truth is her, along with most of the other kids there, had long course seed times from a year ago. Everyone had good swims. Taking 20 seconds off 100 fly is a nice ego boost, as artificial as it may be.

Grace really only had interest in one race. 100 back was her race for the weekend. The zone cut is 1.15.59. Her thought was to hit about 1.17 and then spend the next three weeks training hard and trying to figure out how to take the rest off at JO’s. At the very last moment her dad’s advice – use the bar for your start, not the wall – seemed like a good idea. She has always used the wall, I suspect out of lack of confidence. She grabbed that bar and tucked her head. She had a nice start and was doing fantastic. Remember we were standing by the starting blocks so about 3/4 way down the pool I lose sight of the swimmers. At some point I assume she did a turn and she came back into view. I need binoculars for the next Long Course meet.

As she gets closer to the wall I look at the clock and my only thought is….oh no. Oh no.

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Check your ego at the door

The older two participated in a NFT meet this weekend. Sarah loves these meets, she gets to swim her good events against a smaller, slower group of kids. Despite having swam at the Age Group Champs last weekend, Grace opted to swim some events that she had tanked (breast stroke) at the JO Qualifier in February, as well as some events she fell just short of qualifying for (IM’s and 200/500 free).

This landed me in split sessions with 7 hour days. Apple needs to work on the charge capacity of the iphone, thankfully this event was at our home pool so I knew where all the wall outlets are and had the foresight to bring a charger. I usually drive around during the second warm ups juicing up the phone, but I had a primo parking spot and I wasn’t giving it up.

Sarah swam the morning session and did really, well, all over the map. Status quo. I struggle with this kid, her effort is about half assed and it shows in the results. But she also loves to swim, has a great attitude and always has fun at meets. It is funny, I never get nervous when she swims and I am grateful to have one that really just swims because it is fun. It is expensive fun but fun none the less. Glad her soccer is cheap. Yeah no, I am dreaming.

Grace swam the afternoon sessions. She felt a little awkward swimming this meet, it was a no faster than meet so she could only swim some of her “off” events and only one other kid from her group is in this age group.

As luck would have it, I ended up siting next to the “off” mom who felt it was unfair that kids who had the qualifying times for the meet the weekend before were allowed to swim at all. I didn’t feel any guilt about it, the meet specifically stated that you couldn’t swim any events that your time was faster than the posted time. It also happened to be a home meet hosted by our team. For half a second I thought about reasoning with her. And then my friends showed up. Woohoo for friends.

It didn’t go away. She realized that my daughter was in the last heat of 200 free and I am not ashamed to admit it, she won it. Grace was having a good meet. My friend to the left was not.  I have no clue about her kid, she was too worried about mine.  Apparently it isn’t fair that my daughter was also taking away all the ribbons. (1-8). In Grace’s defense she prefers medals. Dear me. I wasn’t going to cheer any more. Her boyfriend showed up and I slid to the right to make room.

Grace swam 6 events and posted 5 best times, 3 really freaking awesome time drops. I am sorry I don’t feel guilty. The lady can have the stupid ribbon. Coming to a meet, swimming your heart out on events you suck at (breaststroke) and doing well means more than a ribbon or a medal. For the record she didn’t get any ribbons in breaststroke. She will keep trying!

We are keeping the free t-shirt though. My kids love their swagger wear!  Check the ego at the door, if the kids can do it, why can’t the parents?

Oh and the cops came to this one too! Glad I kept that awesome spot, illegally parked cars were being towed. Loving the police smack down at meets!

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(Side note – I am lucky to have a great group of friends.  We highlight ALL of the kids names that we know in the ONE heat sheet we buy and we cheer for ALL of them)