This is one of my favorite Semisonic songs. It also very adequately sums up how I feel about the end of another summer swim season.
The season was a whirlwind. Most families that swim in the summer go to one or two meets a week. With three girls swimming we go to all of them. Plus all of our club meets. It gets exhausting. Most of the time the girls swam really well. And they tanked a few. It’s like this every year. I’m getting pretty good at handling the pressure. They still cry from time to time but in general they handle the competition with class. In the past I would get caught up in each race. Almost as if it were the last race they would ever swim. Now I realize the moment they are done with a race it is behind them. The important races are their future races. And if I am being honest I really hope the important races are not in the near future. Who needs to peak at 13, 11 or 9.
The girls have a lot to look forward to. Grace will be traveling to zones in a few weeks. The 6:30 AM practices for her won’t end until then. I admire her dedication and am proud of her for making zones at the bottom of her age group. I hope she does well. In the coming weeks we will also squeeze I. What I like to call “forced family fun”. We took the girls bowling yesterday. Grace somehow was able to bounce a ball from her lane into the lane next to hers. I guess dry land training has been paying off.
Once zones is finished we will be taking a much needed vacation which will include a visit to the University of Florida campus. Grace has dreams of one day swimming there. Which works out nicely, I would like to move to Florida. Our road trip will take us to south Florida for a week with Grandma and Papa. We need salt water and sand. Chlorine and concrete are banned from this trip!
As a new season approaches I can’t help but be reminded that:
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”
I can’t help but believe this coming year will have a lot of new beginnings.
I was walking into the gym today and was approached by someone asking if I was Grace”s mom. I’m a horrible mother – I immediately assume my children have done something wrong. Grace broke two team records last weekend. In 50 back and 50 free. The backstroke record had belonged to this ladies daughter. When she told me this I still wasn’t sure how to react. My immediate reaction was to apologize. She was offering her congratulations. The record was from 2005 – her daughter, now an adult, enjoyed her moment of glory and was ready to pass it along.
At the end of last season Grace broke a pool record at an away meet. She broke the record at Divisionals, the final meet of the season. The other team moved up to the highest division in our league. She joked that her name would never make the record board – that the record would be beat at the first home meet. She should have put some money on it, her prediction was spot on – her record fell. By .08.
The pool had not updated their record board or their heat sheets. The meet was covered on a news site that specializes in reporting on local swimming. The site is owned by a credible large media outlet. Because they did not have the correct information the record holder and time were credited to the previous record holder. Incidentally, after Divisionals, the same site ran a story on our meet, mentioned the falling record and included a photo of Grace breaking the record.
I sent a brief email to them including the meet results showing that Grace held the record. They amended the article and they apologized. I told them no need to apologize. But I also felt it was the right thing to do. It wasn’t 8 years ago. It was 10 months ago. It was still important to Grace.
Many of the families we club swim with are on this particular summer team. One “friend” of mine publicly criticized me for sending the email. Everyone else thought it was the right thing to do. I’m unapologetic. As well as I know my “friend” I know she would have made a much bigger deal of it than I did. Grace never did get her name on that record board. She wasn’t upset, she found humor in the accuracy of her prediction. She was also comforted by the fact that while her record was broken she broke two of her own that day.
We don’t have a pretty record board at our pool. It’s actually paper stapled on a cork board. The best Grace can hope for this season is that they print a new sheet with her name and record and tack it over top the old sheet. I suspect that won’t happen – my guess is her name will be added with a sharpie. I’ll give it a few weeks. If it doesn’t happen I do happen to have a sharpie in my bag.
In the end, yes – I am Grace’s mom. And Sarah’s mom. Sophie too. I don’t care if you judge me. I’m not an obnoxious swim mom. But my kids work hard. Grace deserved the credit. As does the young lady who broke Grace’s record. I hope she is as proud as Grace was that day. Grace is a pretty good little backstroker and to those that beat her I say job well done. And to all those kids who put out great records that Grace is trying to beat? I say thank you for unknowingly motivating her to try harder every day. That’s more than a mom could ever hope for.
I pride myself on being that “normal” swim mom but I may have to table that for a moment.
We have a crazy swim dad. He registers his son in meets that our club is not attending, he watches practices and has his son attend multiple practices in the same day. He has been asked many times to refrain from doing these things. He smiles, nods his head in agreement and then does it anyways. The kids think he is nuts, he has this angry stance he assumes for an hour and a half while watching practice – it is creepy. He even instigated an argument with a parent from a competing club. Yet his son continues to swim.
Meanwhile, we are still waiting to find out if Sophie can swim in the summer session with our club. The summer session is designed for kids who want to participate in long course meets. Sophie does. It’s emphasis is kids who have made JO cuts. Sophie has. She is the slowest swimmer in the group by the smallest margin you can imagine – there are several kids in the group who are barely faster than her. She makes the intervals, completes practice and doesn’t complain. She is also the youngest – she just turned 9. And let’s not forget her sister Sarah is also in the group. We are obviously committed to the group and practice.
The session starts today. Sophie swims Sunday in the Maryland State Champs meet. She has been granted permission to swim this week in preparation for the meet. But if there isn’t space for her, she won’t be able to swim JO’s.
Needless to say, I am not happy. Swimming is a sport about individual goal setting. Those of you who have followed my tales of swimming know that Sophie’s only goal last year was to make a 9-10 JO cut at the age of 8. She fell short of her goal by a few weeks but nailed her 100 fly at the first long course meet. She is proud of her accomplishment and can’t wait to swim at the meet. I don’t have the heart to tell her that there may not be room in the practice group. Instead of being crazy I have decided to be proactive. I will make it happen, there are lots of options to explore.
In the end, I am disappointed that my daughter wasn’t welcomed to the group with open arms. Swimming is about setting goals. When a young 9 year old sets a goal and accomplishes it we owe it to them to see it through. I guess that is my job.
I’m sure I will regret putting this out there – we are really happy with our club and this is the first time I have been disappointed in them. I couldn’t sleep last night, this weighed heavy on my heart. I need sleep tonight so I am putting my feelings out there.
Almost two months has passed since we made a lifestyle change. We shifted our eating habits from those of convenience to habits that are more in line with the healthy lifestyle we are trying to lead.
We weren’t trying to “lose weight” as a family. All of us are very physically active. It’s a blessing. And a curse. When you are maintaining a healthy weight – all the while being very active it is easy to over look the occasional transgressions in diets. And by occasional I really mean daily
I admit it. I got lazy. Cooking dinner is nearly impossible when you are away from the house every evening.
I made the decision after watching Grace eat an entire pizza after a meet. That wasn’t even the trigger point for me. A friend made the comment “I wish I could eat whatever I wanted and be that thin”.
The truth is an entire pizza after a grueling meet won’t hurt a kid. At all. What will is the mindset that we can eat whatever we want and not gain weight. We need to stop thinking in terms of weight and think in terms of health. It changes the whole vibe when you consider that. Because we can’t eat whatever we want and still be healthy. Please don’t try and convince me the Snickers diet is healthy. We all know better.
Eight weeks later we are still making the right choices. My kids aren’t being neglected they actually *compliment* me on dinners and have all but stopped asking for junk. They are absolutely allowed to eat crap anytime it presents itself. No one in their right mind would turn down made from scratch brownies at a backyard barbecue. I wouldn’t want them to. Deprivation is a recipe for disaster.
In the end, we didn’t have anything to lose. And we did it anyways. I thought that a major overhaul of our families diet was going to be impossible. It wasn’t even close. It was actually quite easy. I am really happy we did it.
I am a reality tv show junkie. Of course I watched “What would Ryan Lochte do?”. I was 30 minutes of my life I will never get back.
I’m going to be honest with you. I know he went to the Olympics. More than once. I know he won medals. More than once. Beyond that I really don’t know too much about him. Other than the fact that he is crazy hot. After watching the show, I still know that. Any nothing else. I can guarantee that Ryan doesn’t even know what he would do. The show literally made my brain cry – can he really be that dim-witted?
I can’t wait until next week when it comes back on. I have wised up, I will just watch it on mute. I can pretend he is saying intelligent things. Shirtless. I also think he should go on the Bachelor. And Survivor. Amazing Race too.
Thursday night I left the pool pretty fired up. I felt like Sophie was being caught in the crossfires of being good but not quite good enough.
Friday rolled around. Sophie refused to go to the advanced juniors practice. The coach had not told her what practice to attend and being a quite literal kid who is only 8 was concerned that she should not go to the practice. The head coach is not there on Friday nights. Sounds totally stupid to a grown up. Makes perfect sense to am almost 9 year old. After a battle of the wills (mine) and a few tears shed (hers) it was decided we would stay at home.
Thirty minutes later she got it together and asked to go. It was too late to go to the advanced juniors but we had plenty of time to make juniors. Should come as no surprise – I took her.
It was her first Friday night practice in either group. Attendance was light and there was a great deal,of stroke work with juniors. She got a lot out of practice and enjoyed it.
We showed up this morning for the 7 am practice and she did advanced juniors. After practice I talked to the coach and worked out a fantastic “time share” program for her that will have her in the group full time sooner than later.
I apologized for being rude in our previous conversation. He assured me I wasn’t. This means one of two things. Either I still can pull the bitch card some day. OR being nice pays off. I really respect our coaches. I’m hoping to leave the bitch card unplayed.
The most important thing of all – Sophie gets to practice with the advanced juniors on Tuesday. Her birthday. Traditionally birthdays in the group are celebrated with donuts. That is what really matters. Oh and I can sleep well tonight. No worries. For now.
This morning most of our community woke up early to participate in the annual 5K that is run through the neighborhoods. Those that don’t run make signs and cheer on their neighbors, friends and classmates. Grace expressed an interest in running it a few weeks ago. Start time? 8AM.
Grace instead rose before the sun. She had a swim practice at 6AM. Had she pressed the 5K I would have allowed her to skip practice and run the race instead. She didn’t.
Last night my husband asked me if I remembered when I became a swim mom. For a while I was a mom who drove her kids to swim. And then one day I accidentally fell in love with the sport.
I remember the moment. I was watching Grace swim a long free style set and thinking how mundane and boring it must be to be a swimmer. And then I realized I was jealous. I’ll never understand the 2 hours that a swimmer spends completely inside themselves. No music, conversation, road noise, change in terrain or people watching. I was always a runner and these were the things that kept me going. A swimmer keeps going without any of that. It is just them. Pressing on. It’s the solitude of a swimmer that I respect the most.
For the early practices we use a side door, it is propped open with a large rock. It’s a short walk down a dirt hill to the door. From my parking spot looking down I see right through the door to the starting blocks. A few kids were already in the pool and all I could see was small movement of the water. It was dark outside but the flourescent lighting made the water glow. I felt like I was looking into the window of a swimmers soul. A place I’ll never go but always respect.
By the time Grace crawled back under her covers for a quick catnap most of her friends had finished the 5K. Photos were all over facebook of families and their triumphant runs – medals around their necks. Grace didn’t get a medal today. But she made the choice to go to a mundane, boring practice today. She gets gold in my heart.
Right now I suck at being a swim mom. I’m pretty good at most things that the sport and parenting hand me. But this one thing? It’s making me cranky.
I’m not generally a worrier. That’s because I like to be in control. When I am in control things go well. When I’m not I’m a bitch. When I lose control in regards to something that affects my kids? Run away from me. Far.
Sophie is stuck in no mans land. She turns 9 on Tuesday. She can no longer be a mini. Which leaves her two options. Juniors or Advanced Juniors.
I personally think she belongs in Advanced Juniors. It’s the group she will absolutely be in next September. I’m all for keeping things simple. Put her in the group now, shut the box and tie a bow on it. Plus Sarah is in the group. Three kids two groups trumps three kids three groups. The practices will be a challenge for her but she can do them. She has the will.
Unfortunately she lacks some of the skill. Her freestyle needs some work. Advanced Juniors does some pretty long free endurance sets – the coach has concerns and feels that she will get more stroke work out of juniors. I’m not convinced he is correct. There are too many kids in the group with not enough coaches or lanes. I see it as a mess. Sophie hates it. They put her with 12 year old kids. She doesn’t want to swim there.
I’m doing what’s best for my kid. I am not sure yet what that is. But it has me pissed off. She has a fast fly and will be making some big meets as a 9 year old. She wants the challenge of the tougher group. I’ll do what it takes to get her the skill. But don’t mess with her will. You can’t teach that. I’m willing to play hard ball. A good coach will be too…someone can take her from good to great. Who is that going to be?
You might think I dropped off the face of the planet. Grace and Sarah both swam Friday, Saturday and Sunday of their spring champs meet which was actually the same weekend that spring break started. They both had an amazing meet with impressive time drops. More importantly, so did all of the kids in the two groups they swim with. I love to see success as a group, it means the training is working! I always trust our coaches training programs – the intensity leading up to the championship up to the meet and the taper are the critical components. It’s exciting to see it come together.
We then took two weeks off from the pool. The girls spent a week at the beach with Grandma and Papa in Florida and Chris and I snuck off for a weekend away in New Orleans. It was the perfect time to get away, Maryland got a rare late March snow on the day we got out of dodge.
Last week the girls went back to school but were still out of the pool. It was really odd, we didn’t have any activities after school. We are at the pool seven days a week. Eating dinner while the sun is still shining is a rarity for us. The house was cleaner, dinners were prepared from a recipe, homework was done early and we had a lot of down time. I won’t lie. I was a calmer person. We literally had three extra hours every evening. I also was bored. Really, really bored.
When you are used to a fast pace it is hard to slow down. As much as I enjoyed the week of living like normal people I was glad it was over. We have learned to love our crazy life. My kids need the physical activity to stay sane. By day 14 they reminded me of those little bouncy balls you can buy for a quarter out of a gumball machine. Not one, more like a million. Bouncing around my house. I get it, I feel the same way after a few days of non activity – you know, swim meet weekends!
Long course season started Monday. Grace and Sarah went back to their same practice groups. Sophie will be 9 in a few weeks and is caught in between Juniors and Advanced Juniors. She did her first Advanced Juniors practice last night and quite honestly got her ass handed to her. It was a hard practice. But she didn’t give up. Later I asked her what she thought. She said it was really hard. I was very concerned it might be too much for her but Grace jumped in and asked if she wanted to go back. Sophie said, why wouldn’t I? She isn’t backing down from a challenge. And I was all set to let her. I thought I knew everything and here I am starting over.
Now I need to convince the coach to take her on. You know the one, the one I convinced to take on Sarah? Same one. He had success with her…I’m out of kids to be his project. I don’t think he is too sad…Once I have convinced him I’ll go back to being my low maintenance self. It’s his fault for being such a great coach.
Sarah played in a soccer tournament this past weekend. We had committed her as a “guest” player for a team of kids comprised largely of girls from our summer swim team prior to her being diagnosed with severe inflammation in her Achilles’ tendon. She knew these would be her final few games until next fall when we could have her feet and ankles reevaluated by our orthopedic specialist.
Sarah wasn’t able to practice with these girls prior to the tournament. I never thought to ask the single most important question, the position they needed her to play. As fate would have it, they needed her on defense, a position I don’t recall her ever playing.
Aside from the fact that it was miserably cold, it was fun to watch her play. The kids and parents were very welcoming. She knew the coach and his daughter very well so she felt very comfortable with them. Sarah took on her position as if it were second nature. She communicated well with the other players. She played with heart and sole and a whole lot of scrappy. I hadn’t seen her this relaxed on the field in well over a year.
Even though Sarah loved her old soccer coach and team, it also had become a stressful environment. There was a lot of pressure on the kids. By the coach, the other kids and by the parents. Too much by the parents. They all envision their kids future collegiate soccer players. I saw them as a nice average group of kids. Which is why I suppose we didn’t fit in all the time.
Sarah has always been nicknamed scrappy. It suits her well. This past weekend was no exception. I’m proud of her for not being intimidated playing a new position and for working hard as an individual player and in an unfamiliar team environment. I saw her having fun. Something she hadn’t done with soccer in a long while. Well done Sarah. Well done. Lets put the cleats away now and get you better. And maybe consider defense in the future. She was a natural at it.