I’ll own it

I was accused yesterday of being a proud mom.  I’m pretty sure it was intended as an insult.  It didn’t have the desired effect.  I took it as a compliment.  I am proud of my girls.  They certainly aren’t perfect.  They get that honestly – I am as far from perfect as you can get.  But I try.  Well, not really.

Going into last nights meet I was proud of Grace.  She has developed a great attitude about summer swimming.  She has learned to enjoy it and not get caught up in who she is beating.  As a result, she has had one hell of a summer.  As a result of that, she qualified to swim 100 back and free at a USA-S sanctioned meet – top 8 in each age and stroke were invited to race.

Grace had her eye on the prize.  She wants a knee skin.  Dad told her she needed a AAA cut before she turned 14 and he would shell out mega bucks for the suit.  Grace was concerned she wouldn’t do well, that all the other girls would be in knee skins.  And they were, she was right.  But Grace was wrong – she did just fine in her rinky dink Recordbreaker.  She thought she would get the cut in 100 back.  She didn’t. But she gave it a noble effort and did make the Zones cut that was hanging over her head.  But before she swam backstroke she shocked herself by getting that AAA cut in 100 free.  She ran upstairs after the race and was literally jumping for joy.

Tomorrow we start a long 4 day weekend of JO’s and a summer meet.  The mood has already been set for Grace – she is fired up and ready to go.

Am I proud of her?  Hell yeah.  You are going to have to try harder to insult me.  I’ll own it.  And that knee skin?  Grace will own it too.  Not in time for this weekend unfortunately.  She will just have to own that pool in the suit she has.  Watch out world when she gets it.  It might not matter her faster but she wants it.

Me?  I would rather have new shoes…

Raised expectations.

Our summer swim league had its official start yesterday. We had an early morning wake up call for time trials. Grace actually viewed it as an opportunity to sleep in, she generally has a 6:30 AM practice on Saturday mornings so a 7:15 warm up time allowed her another 45 minutes of sleep.

Our summer swim league swims A and B meets. A meets are Saturday mornings. The 6 fastest freestylers and 3 fastest in the other strokes swim on Saturday. Everyone else swims on Wednesday evening. Each week you can swim a total of three strokes plus the IM. If you only qualify for two events at the A meet you can also swim the third plus the IM on Wednesday. With three kids being at the bottom of their age group I assumed that we would be swimming both meets. I had expectations that Grace would make the A meets. There are 3 girls that have swam together for years. Grace is the baby of the three and usually rides the #3 position with them when she is bottom of her age group. Every other year she has held on to the #1 spot.

Sarah and Sophie have always been wild cards. Last year, at top of their age group they made the A meets but were definitely fighting for their lives each week. I had no expectations for this year. I was confident both would make freestyle top 6 but I was otherwise pretty unsure. I signed up to volunteer at both A and B meets.

I knew all three girls had worked hard this year but I also knew their team mates had done the same. I preach to the girls that hard work pays off and that I don’t care where they place as long as they are constantly improving.

Going into time trials with no expectations is great. We left though with raised expectations. All three girls did amazing. Grace literally rose to the top, she placed first in back and free, second in IM and fly, with a shocking third in breaststroke. She swam her heart out. Sarah placed second in everything but fly, she was third. Little Sophie got first in fly and free! IM is a 12 and under event but she had a great swim!

Summer swim unfortunately IS somewhat about “place” and scoring for the team. That is the one part of it I don’t like. Sarah is very competitive and it sometimes brings out the smack talking side of her. She got her one shot at saying something stupid yesterday. I put the fear of an iPhone free summer in her if she did it again. I think she got the point.

I was really happy to see the girls swim so well! They have worked so hard this year and it is awesome to see it all come together. I’m glad they didn’t go in with high expectations. A few kids did and they left disappointed. We left completed excited to see what this summer will bring.

Sometimes it pays to be crazy

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.

Does Ryan know what Ryan would do?

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.

Make Sophie Stop!!!

It’s hard to believe it has been nine years since our family became three beautiful little girls.  Sophie can’t possibly be nine.  She agreed to be my baby forever.  We are going to be old when she graduates from college, we tell her all the time that it will be a smooth transition, one day she will live with us and the next us with her.

Sophie was our easiest baby.  Not because she was easy but because we had finally figured out what we were doing.  Or we were too busy to care.  Regardless, from day one Sophie was on the go with us.  Which is kind of funny because she would prefer to be at home over anywhere else.  She is quite content hanging out with dad on a quiet Sunday afternoon.  I guess we wore her out early on.

Sophie is a happy kid.  She expresses herself by singing and dancing.  People often ask “where does Sophie dance”.  I try to explain that she is in a home school program for dance.  Ok, YouTube taught her.  Mother of the year I have never claimed to be.  I signed her up for hip hop once, she quit.  She didn’t like “doing” the choreography of other people.    She looks pretty good to me.  I guess that is because the rest of us really suck at dancing.

She drives Sarah and Grace nuts.  They can’t hear Full House over her singing.  They can’t see it either because she is dancing in front of the TV.  It all annoys me because they are in MY family room and not THEIR playroom.  Truth be told, I don’t want to see Full House – it is a painful reminder as to how badly I dressed in the early 90’s.  If only I had a spiral perm for every time I hear “MOM, MAKE SOPHIE STOP”…For a while I took Sophie’s side – how do you tell someone they are too freaking happy and that all of their singing and dancing and joyous crap is annoying?

The other day I was sitting at my desk doing some work.  Soph was behind me, doing one of her many interpretive (ok performance art) dances.  Suddenly, out of no where, she kicked me upside the head.  I couldn’t help myself, I told her to stop dancing.  I thought that would slow her down.  It didn’t.

The very next day she kicked the crap out of the coffee table.  Bruised her foot really good.  Like all good parents, we took her hiking.  We had planned a nice birthday celebration for her, complete with a hike and a trip to our local winery.  (Everyone hosts their kids 9th birthday at a winery right?).  Surely this would slow her down?

She tried to swim the next day.  Not because she wanted to but because it was her birthday.  Tradition with our club is that birthdays are celebrated with Donuts, and the birthday kid gets thrown in the pool by the coach.  The pain was an easy sacrifice.  She made it 59 minutes out of a 90 minute practice.  When she got out her entire foot was bruised and swollen twice its normal size.  That slowed her down.

An X-Ray the next day revealed two of the tiny bones in her foot were broken.  The Dr felt that once the swelling went down she would be able to get back in the water.  That slowed her down even more.

The next day after school she was doing cartwheels.  She went to swim that evening.  I want to be nine again.  At least I can still do a cartwheel.  Happy birthday Sophie.  Never stop being happy.  Just don’t kick me in the head.

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Just sleep on it

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.

It’s a rough life

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.

 

Where was I?

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.

Set me free why don’t you babe

Get out of my lane why don’t you babe?

As we move into the spring long course season our club has started to rearrange the groups. Kids who are going to high school will start to transition to one of the two groups intended for the kids who are no longer in middle school.

Several of the kids in the group are younger than Grace but a year ahead of her in school. Grace has an early November birthday. She started school in Ohio and the cut off was in August. In Maryland the cut off all those years ago was November 1st and as such, many parents with kids born in November pushed for their kids to start school early. It wasn’t an option for Grace. She is one of the older kids in her Grade. This had been a positive experience for her.

One of the girls who is moving up is a few weeks younger than Grace. She has been telling Grace daily that she HAS to move us. It has become annoying for Grace. Actually, it is making her mad. The kid is being quite mean about it.

Even if Grace wanted to move up, she couldn’t. Grace has one more year in middle school and can’t even get to the practice. Not that it matters. She isn’t moving up. She likes her group and wants one more year there. Grace will be 18 her senior year of swimming. She has plenty of time to be a high school swimmer. When she is in high school. I finally went to the coach and told him to put an end to it. He wasn’t too happy to hear about it.

Grace can swim in minis for all I care. But it is no ones business other than hers, mine and the coaches. This kid needs to move along. And shut her trap.

I have a dad trying to figure out which group Sophie is heading to. I’m having fun ignoring his prying questions. Next person that worries about my kids can pay my swim tab – then they can have a say.

And the taper paid off…

Grace started a taper about two weeks before JO’s. I would rather spend time with a million buzzing bees than a swimmer during a taper. The first few days are fine – it usually hits around day 5. Quite literally grace did not know what to do with her pent up energy. Usually a fairly calm person, Grace spent the days leading up to JO’s talking non stop. Mostly about clothes. Can we go to the mall? Can you buy me some Vans? Do you like this shirt? Can I borrow your Lululemon pants? I need a new bathing suit for summer. Around day 5 she started doing P90X. Dad advised her not to but she couldn’t help herself. Swimmers are true endorphin junkies. I now know why they say swimmer for life. They don’t know how not to swim hard.

Fortunately the taper paid off. The kids in Grace’s group all did really well at the meet. Grace had a solid swim in 100 back and then took off 3 seconds. In February she had shaved off a little over 3.5 seconds – since January she has dropped 6.5 in her 200 back. She was slightly disappointed to not make finals but next year she should do exceptional at the meet.

She is swimming 7 more events this coming weekend at our championship meet. The kids aren’t allowed to swim events they qualified for at JO’s. Grace is seeded first in several events having just barely missed the JO times. I am hoping that we can survive one more week of easy practice. She seems to have quiet down some which scares me. Perhaps lethargy is setting in!

Sarah is also swimming this weekend. I’m hoping her streak of amazing swims continues. I would love to see her get a JO cut for next year to boost her confidence.

This will be my final meet with double sessions. Oh, hold you applause. I will have triple sessions from here on out. Sophie will be the big 0-9 in April.

After this weekend the girls head to Florida for a visit with Grandma and Papa. Chris and are sneaking off to New Orleans for a few days. And then we begin long course!