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.