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?

Girl on fire

This weekend is our February Qualifier meet for Junior Olympics.  We once went to a qualifier that they called Last Chance Meet which I always found humorous, especially if you kids are 9.   This meet was a little different than usual meets, instead of the kids swimming two sessions on two days they had two sessions on one day.  The 12 and unders had two sessions Saturday and the older kids are swimming today.

Sophie swam 100 fly in the morning and 50 fly in the afternoon.  She had never swam 100 fly but based on her 50 fly times the coaches thought she had a legitimate chance of making the JO cut.  She needed to take 1 second off her 50 ly in the afternoon to get it.

I was very proud of Sophie – she never doubted herself or her abilities to swim 100 fly.  The only mention of nerves came as we were walking into the pool, she said “I have butterflies for butterfly”.  I gave her a quick kiss on the top of her head and she went on deck for warm ups.  I was a nervous mess.  I paced for two hours until she swam.   Sophie hopped onto the block like a total badass.  She was the only 8 year who swam.  The other kids ranged in age from 9-12.

She had a beautiful swim.  She fell just short of her goal of 1.30.69 – but still clocked an impressive 1.33.69.  She was ecstatic.  We left, she came home and napped.  Despite not making the JO cut, she did make the Dolan time for next year.

For the afternoon session Sarah and Sophie were both swimming.  Sophie had 50 fly and Sarah’s coach had put her in three events.  I was appreciative of his putting her in the meet, they kids were supposed to be close to the JO times and having just turned 11 late in November Sarah really didn’t have a shot.  Sarah’s coach picks her events and as luck would have it, she ended up in 50 fly as well, same heat as Sophie.  Lanes 3 and 4.  I use the term luck here, people often forget there are two kinds of luck.  Good luck and not so good luck.

Sarah actually figured out Friday night that they would be racing one another.  She wasn’t happy.  She isn’t the kind of kid who gets over things quickly.  She had almost 24 hours to stew over this.  Or perhaps brew.

We opted to take one car, a risk I know, to the second session.  Both girls were on edge.

Sarah swam 200 IM and 50 breaststroke.  After watching her two races I had already determined who would prevail in the sibling showdown.

When it came time for the two to race my heart was literally racing.  I really wanted Sophie to get her cut and I also wanted Sarah to win.  This was the best possible case scenario for me.  (Yes it is about me, I have to live with them!).

Unfortunately, nerves got the best of Sophie and she lingered on the block.  A painfully long time.  There is no room for error on a 50.  Sophie’s race was over before it started.  Sarah however was ready to take this heat down.  In flames.  She destroyed the heat and took off 3 seconds, swimming a 35.59!  (Sarah doesn’t even like fly for the record!).  Sophie added a second which was impressive given her start.  Had she nailed that start she would have made her time, there is no doubt in my mind.  The awesome news is she has two more years to hit it!

Sophie cried for a moment.  I was very happy that she knew what she had done wrong.  Sarah made sure that Sophie knew she beat her.  And then apologized.  It was a peaceful ride home.

Sarah was the dark horse of this meet.  While she didn’t make any qualifying times at this meet, I do see them in her future.  I thought her coach put her in the meet to be nice.  I was wrong.  He put her in because he believed in her.  I asked him to take a chance on her at the beginning of this season and he did.  He let her in the group and she struggled for a bit.  She now belongs there.  Her future is bright.  Sarah is a competitor, once she knew she had her sister in that 50 fly she took on everyone else.  She handed in three brilliant swims.  Sophie two.  After 5 swims at a qualifying meet, none actually making the cut, I left full of pride.  It was a great day.

 

The running commentary of my children

“Michael Phelps needs to quit swimming and find a wife, he is too old to be swimming he needs to get a job”

“Is diving safe?”

“They wouldn’t get wedgies in beach volleyball if their bottoms weren’t so small”

“Is swimming EVER going to come on?”

“We would be British if the pilgrims didn’t run away from home”.

“if I go to the Olympics do you think they will spell my name right on the cap?”

“Jumping far into sand is a sport? They should jump past it so they don’t get dirty”.

“Tennis is the best sport, they wear pretty dresses ”

“Is that a real girl?”

“Are you going to watch any of these shows they are previewing?”

“You need to have perfect aim when you run that fast.”

“Why don’t they have a world record line in running? It seems like a waste of money to only use it in swimming,”

“if I go to the Olympics can I get an Olympic tatoo?”

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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The times don’t lie

Which my friend Sherry figured out!  She went straight to the source – USA Swimming.  I bet she peeks at presents too!

I applaud her methods.  I try to do the same. There are 3 ways for me to get an accurate time.

1.  I look at the electronic board.  If there isn’t one I
2.  Look over the rail and ask my friend Jenni, who coaches for another team but times my kids. or
3.  I try to get the kid or coaches attention.  I can read lips if you mouth it really big to me

My husband on the other hand prefers to use his Blackberry (everyone knows iphones are better).  I won’t give him too much shit, he reads this but he is the worst timer every.  He may as well use and hourglass.

She is swimming 50 back.  Shooting for a 35.59.  He gets a 35.90.  REALLY?

I only care that she gets the zone time because I know she wants it.  She has other opportunities and if that really is her time she can totally get it next time right?  But, again, this is blackberry time.  He may as well have said she got a 42.34 or a 23.45.

Thank goodness I am one of those horrible parents who buys their kid an iphone because I shortly thereafter got a three word text from her.  If you have a 12-year-old daughter you know this is chatty for this age.

I GOT IT.

Yeah!  I am back on vacation.  She got a 35.49.

Zones will cost me about $500!  That is about $14 a second.  We are going to have to get a few more now.  I will have to teach a lot of spim classes to pay for that, although I could stand the exercise after girls weekend!  I am very happy for her, she has worked really hard this year with that goal in mind.  I applaud her efforts.

Roadtrip baby!  Sherry you in?

Really? My phone isn’t charged?

Did she make zones?

Girls weekend was going well. Did I mention that through sheer dumb luck we had planned this get away over Cinco de Mayo? My personal favorite holiday.

Timing in swimming is everything so after a quick consultation of the timeline I knew 2:30 was the magic hour that she would swim the event she was most likely to make the cut for at this particular meet.

Around 1:00 realized that my iPhone/camera/gps/trip advisor/yelp reviewer was about to kick the bucket. I was in the red zone.

I was able to convince the crew that we needed to head to the room so we could pack up for a trip on the water taxi to a nearby island where we had planned to swim and sun.

I quickly plugged in the phone and then got ready as slowly as humanly possible. I got about 30 minutes of good charge in.

I have no plans to lose or drown my beloved phone and as such knew I needed to leave it behind

As luck would have it the ferry departed at 245. If dad was on the ball I could get what I needed and be on my way.

Timing is everything. Would the Water taxi be early? What if the meet was behind schedule? Could I take hours of not knowing? Was I losing my mind? (the answer to that is yes).

Time to wait.

Wait for it….wait for it….

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)

And your excuse is?

If you are like me, you have heard them all. From parents and swimmers. I hope you have never used them yourself.

My favorites:

  1. Had to poop
  2. Had to pee
  3. Ate too much
  4. Didn’t eat enough
  5. Pool was longer than I thought
  6. Pool was shorter than I thought
  7. Suit too tight
  8. Suit too big
  9. Flags in wierd spot
  10. Lines in wierd spot
  11. Thought it was a 50
  12. Thought it was a 100
  13. Thought it was an IM
  14. Goggles full of water
  15. Goggles in the water
  16. Didn’t warm up
  17. Didn’t warm down
  18. Warmed up too much
  19. Warmed down too much
  20. Sat too long
  21. Stood too long
  22. Too long between race
  23. Races too close together
  24. Ate too much
  25. Starving
  26. Drank too much
  27. Dehyrated
  28. Stayed up too late
  29. Got up too early
  30. Wanted to give someone else a chance
  31. Wanted to go home

So we are clear, I myself have said some of the lame-o excuses AND have let my children use them. The reality is though, it is a level playing field. At 6 PM on Sunday, everyone is tired. When two pools are racing at once, everyone has to keep a sharp ear on their pool. All the kids are sitting around, eating their weight in nachos. The kids who are true warriors can race their best under any conditions. No excuses.

And when you tank you tank. Have the humility to say “I (or my kid) didn’t have the best race / day / meet. There is nothing wrong with blowing a race, and truth is no one cares. (If your friends do, I strongly urge you to find new friends). I don’t want my kids to blow it off when they have a bad race or meet. They need to address it. But they also don’t need to come up with a lame excuse.

I love it when my kids say “I got too close to the wall on my third turn and it really showed in my time”. If they had to pee, not my problem. Maybe the problem of the kid in the heat after them.