Staying on top

Staying on Top
If your son or daughter is among the Top 16 when they are 10 years old, shouldn’t they be in the running for a national championship when they turn 18? In fact, quite the opposite is the case. Improvement is not a steady positive slope, especially for swimming prodigies. A study by USA Swimming using the All-Time Top 100 swims in each age group found that only 10 percent of the Top 100 10-and-Unders maintained their status through age 18. Only half of the swimmers among the Top 100 in the 17-18 age group had made any top-100 list when they were younger. “Those winning races at 10 probably won’t be winning races when they are 20,” says John Leonard, the executive director of the American Swimming Coaches Association. “This is one of those things that is obvious to coaches but can be a mystery to parents.”


I just read this on our LSC website.  I am always intrigued when I read articles such as this.  It seems clear that success in the older age groups has very little to do with being top dog at 10.  Yet so much emphasis is placed on those younger swimmers who are at the top, even in the LSC.

I personally am thankful that there isn’t pressure to succeed placed on my kids by anyone but mom and dad.  They know we are pushing them to THEIR very best and aren’t measuring their success by the success of others.  Their egos are fairly in check and they don’t believe success is guaranteed.

Grace and Katie

Katie Ledecky

Katie Ledecky

This was taken at The Tom Dolan Invitational.  Katie has been at the meet all weekend, swimming six individual events and a few relays.  She has also been around for all of the sessions, signing autographs and having her photo taken.  I think it is amazing that she is so accessable to all of the kids who admire and respect her.  She is a class act!  Our kids are very fortunate to have such great role models!


I think we are lucky, we never pay to watch swim meets in our area. I know from talking to other parents that many places you have to pay to get into the meet.

Grace is swimming at The Tom Dolan Invitational. I stayed home with my cuddle bugs today and sent dad. He just called me annoyed that he has to pay five bucks to get into the meet.

Last weekend we used about $85 in gas.  Spent nearly $60 on meals.  Another $50 on tolls.  Oh and a pair of goggles at the meet for the low price of $22.

Pay the $5.

This morning when Grace was leaving for warm ups I handed her a $5 out of his wallet.  I debated giving her the two that were in there but at the last minute decided to be kind and leave one *just in case*.  That very well may be the best decision I have made all year!

Go Grace go.

She met Katie Ledecky after warm ups and got her photo taken with her.  Very cool.

Post meet stress disorder

I have a love hate relationship with swim meet weekends. I love seeing the girls compete, especially when they do well. I know they are going to be long weekends with lots of swimming. Afterwards, we are all exhausted.

No matter how much I prepare I usually find that my house looks like a hurricane went through it by Sunday night. There isn’t a clean towel in the house. The refrigerator is bare. And I feel out of touch with society.

Come Monday morning I am anxious to get out and about. To breathe in fresh air and to talk to people who aren’t swim moms. I mostly am excited to get to the gym.

As a group fitness instructor I am very active but am also happy to take the two days off for a swim meet weekend. I don’t work on Sunday and usually end up not working on Saturday either. It isn’t the lack of exercise that kills me, it is the lack of movement. I truly don’t know how people sit all the time. My whole body hurts after a long swim meet weekend. From doing nothing.

I usually go to meets prepared. With books to read and other activities to pass the time. Instead I stare at the clock on the wall.

I teach yoga and we do childs pose in class. It is such a relaxing pose. I spend several hours in the “mental” version of childs pose at meets. I don’t know where I go but my brain literally shuts down and I stare into nothingness and think about nothing. I think I might start doing other yoga poses in the middle of the meets from now on. I bet I could get people to join in. A lot of people at meets could use a little more peace, love and understanding. At the very least I am going to start doing laps around the building in between swims. I am sure I would come out of these weekends feeling a lot better.

It’s a chlorine induced hangover. I am not giving in anymore. But I am having my glass of wine on Sunday night!

Should I take a shovel?

Day three.  Chris and I switch roles.

I was more than happy to go to the mini meet.  The reality of swimming 200 IM and 200 fly was starting to sink in and Grace was not happy about it.

I made the mistake of getting her a ride to warm ups to buy my husband an extra hour of sleep.  My friend ended up getting lost.  Grace pulled out her iphone and was able to use GPS to get them to the pool.  She might get lost in her 200 backstroke but not driving to a meet!  Sophie and I were off to the other side of the planet.  It certainly seemed that way.

All day Saturday Chris and I debated who was at the worst meet.  After switching roles on Sunday it was clear we both were winners.  Or losers.

Sophie had three solid swims.  Once again the heat winner cap magic worked.  Sophie fought hard for the cap in 50 free.  She also swam a consistent 50 fly from two weeks prior.  I was petrified she would add time and cry.  She is 8. Dodged that bullet.  Sophie reconnected with an old friend (can you have an old friend at 8?) who was swimming for our club at another site.  We made lunch plans for after the meet in January.  She has also made some really nice friends in her group and is really enjoying.  I can’t believe this is the same kid who cried before, after and during every meet two years ago.  I hate to jinx myself but we haven’t seen the tears in a long time.

Grace decided to bring her A game.  She swam 200 IM and knocked several seconds off her best time.  She had a quick turn around for 200 fly.  She was listed on the psych sheet as a No Time.  In reality she had swam 200 fly once.  About two years ago.  Because it was with a different club it didn’t automatically pull up.  We could have fixed it but she decided No Time looked a lot better than her real time!  She was dreading this race.  I was nervous for her.  I got a text from Chris.  “Holy crap you are a flyer”.  I immediately knew it was intended for Grace not me but I also took it as good news.  She had a solid swim and at this point had earned two spots in finals.  She swam 50 free, knocked half a second off and rounded out a triple header for finals.  I sent her home for a nap with our friend.  Who again got lost.  If Grace didn’t hate me for the two 200’s this would seal the deal.  Lost twice and swimming everything twice, what a day.

Sarah had the second session.  She brought her usual fire and determination.  And a marker.  She loves to write on her body.  It makes her easy to pick out of a crowd.  Sarah once again got to race a good friend.  Win or lose the race, Sarah gives it her all.  She had three great races and continued her streak of solid performances.  I need to look at her times from last year, I can’t seem to impress upon her how much improvement she has made.  She has had some significant time drops this year.  Sarah is proof that hard work pays off, she has upped her commitment to practice and it shows!  Several of her friends from school that swim for another club were also at this meet.  They all cheered each other on.  I am always happy to see that.sarah 3

We all reconvened at the house and I was taking  Grace to finals.  I considered taking a shovel along.  I wanted to give that deer a proper burial.  You know you are starting to lose your mind when you are starting to worry about the road kill.

Sophie offered to go back with me.  I took her up her offer, she is a fun date.  Chris and Sarah went for a daddy date birthday celebration.  Grace swam her IM.  Luckily she had gotten a good time that morning.  Her 200 fly was a solid swim.  She gained two seconds from morning.  She swore she gained 20.  Clearly I was not the only one losing their mind.  I spent a good fifteen minutes trying to convince her otherwise.  She opted to use her 50 free as a warm down.  At the crack of 10 PM we were out of there.  I swear the pool stole my soul.  And all of our minds.

We waved a sad farewell to Bambi.  And headed home.  The right way.

On the way home I swore I would never go to that meet again.  Sophie was sad, she said “but mom, you won’t let me swim at it next year when I am 9-10”?  Grace reminded her this was the third year in a row that I had sworn to never go back.  Of course she is right.

For now, we take a break from meets.  Until Saturday.


A Tale of Two Cities

Actually two states.  Saturday morning.  7 AM warm ups.  One an hour away in Maryland, the other an hour away in Virginia.  Stop right there if you are jealous.  This is just the beginning of the fun.

Chris took Sophie to her mini meet in Virginia. Who came up with the idea of 7 AM warm ups for minis?  This person sucks.

I took Grace to her warm ups.  Bambi was still there.  Looking really rough.

Sophie was out for blood at the mini meet.  They gave caps to the heat winners.  Last year Sophie did really well at the meet.  But no caps.  She was bound and determined to get the cap that she felt was rightfully hers.  And that she did.  A yellow one, her favorite color.sophie cap

I miss the simpler times of swimming.  When being a heat winner held some prestige.  Chris was texting me updates and I was texting him updates.  While Sophie was busy having a great time winning caps, Grace was hard at work swimming pretty half assed.  She swam 100 fly and added a second.  About two tenths too much to get her into the finals.  She then swam 200 backstroke, her event.  She had a goal in mind.  For the first 100 she was well on her way.  Well, her first 90.  Then she decided to glide into the wall.  Swimmers are taught to keep swimming, hoping that perhaps the refs won’t see the offense as critically as the swimmer.  Or even better yet, the won’t see it all.  OR they are standing right on top of you on the pool deck and they shoot their hand straight in the air.  As was the case in this event.  Backstrokers have it hard.  She held it together pretty well for the next 25 but at the turn she could see me.  I kept cheering for her and she started to cry.  Crying during a race makes no sense.  Two days later.  At the time it is a very natural reaction.  At the 175 mark she looked me straight in the eye and said “AM I DONE”?  I nodded yes.  “ARE YOU SURE?”  Yes.  At this point she was laughing.  She had blown the race and forgotten where she was in it.  I didn’t care that she got DQ’d, nor did her coaches.  But it was a great teachable moment.  Think about your race.

She got it together and soon after pulled out a respectable 200 free.  One that earned her a spot in finals.

Sarah’s session was up next.  She had a ride there.  I drove Grace home for a nap.  Then I drove back.  An hour each way.  Two more trips on the toll road.  The roadkill was still not cleaned up.  I needed a new route.

Sophie’s meet ended and Chris took her home to chill with Grace.  Sarah swam next.

The pool was not crowded for the 13-14 and 15-18 session.  I was still enjoying the meet.

Whoever got the bright idea to put 9-10 and 11-12 together though should be looking for a new job on craigslist.  When I got back I parked very far away.  The seat I had saved for myself with a towel and been reduced to half its size.  It was ridiculously hot and there wasn’t even standing room.   The fire marshal showed up at Junior Olympics at this same pool last year.  This was worse.  People were cranky.   I don’t know why, they all got to sleep in, I was up at 5:30.

Sarah swam three events.  All three she did a great job on.  Sarah is a nice middle of the pack swimmer.  This was her first meet as an 11-year-old, her birthday was the day before the meet started.  She got best times and swam with a lot of heart and determination.  I wish Sarah would take swimming on full-time, she has a lot of potential.  She is a wicked fierce competitor.  She may not win her race but she gives it 100%.  And then some.  She is thinking through the race and doesn’t make mistakes.

Her last event was 50 fly.  Her last time swimming that was 2 weeks ago when she went head to head with her baby sister.  This time she went head to head with her swim BFF.  They stayed together the entire race.  Until the end and Sarah’s friend out swam her by a few tenths.  Sarah knocked a half a second off her best time and was elated!  And speaking of exciting, they had nachos at concessions.  Sarah wolfed them down.

On the way out she told me that she loved racing her BFF.  That her friend pushed her to swim fast and they were both happy to get best times.  A kid that loves to compete and can handle the competition?  Go Sarah.

We passed our little friend on the way out.  May he rest in peace.

Chris took Grace back for finals.  She swam a nice 200 free.  And the day was done.

Total trips back and forth to meets at this point?  Eight.  My E-Z pass bill was going to be more than my mortgage.  Grace was begging to bag the last day of the meet.  Sophie wanted another cap.  Sarah?  She wanted nachos.

Wake up call in ten hours.


Whoever created this saying was clearly not a swimmer.  On a swim meet weekend Friday night usually means “drive your ass to a swim meet for one freaking event” – aka 500 free in our case.

In the past, Grace hated 500 free.  I had for a long time encouraged her to do it and she refused.  She now asks to swim it.  I was thrilled she wanted to do it and decided it was a sign of maturity.

I was feeling some mommy guilt because it was Sarah’s birthday.  She, along with three of her soccer teammates, had won an contest.  The prize was a dinner date with the soccer coach.  Imagine my surprise (relief) when her coach chose the night her birthday to take them to the Melting Pot.  Sarah was thrilled to spend her evening with her coach and teammates.

I convinced Sophie that she would enjoy going with me.  And then she changed her mind.  I am grateful for good friends who will throw in a frozen pizza, rent a movie and take on an extra kid for a few hours.

Grace and I were on our own.

We had a pleasant drive there.  Unfortunately, someone had hit a deer on the road outside the pool complex.  Recently.  It wasn’t a pretty sight.  I convinced Grace to stop thinking about it.

The pool was not crowded, parking was a breeze and the air temperature inside was tolerable.  No one even minded when I walked down on deck and talked to the coach and hung out with Grace.  Normally this is something I do not do and it annoys me when others do.  I went down to time and they didn’t need me and Grace’s coach told me to hang out, they were bored.

I can honestly say I enjoyed the meet.  We were being silly and laughing.  I can’t believe I am going to say this, we were having fun.  Grace was teasing her coach about being so quiet and not yelling when they swam.  We were making fun of the whistler dude and all the other odd things coaches and parents do during meets.  Finally it was Grace’s turn to swim.  Her coach decided to do all of the things we made fun of.  He yelled her name, whistled and yelled some more.  I literally thought she was going to fall in the pool she was laughing so hard on the block.

She had a good swim and got a best time.  Her turns were awful and her coach said if he didn’t want to go home he would deck enter her in the 1650.  On one hand I would have loved to have seen her reaction.  On the other hand, it was past my bed time.  We were out of there.

I was hoping the deer carcass would be gone.  Instead it had been hit a few hundred times.

I left with a false sense of security.  Thinking the meet would be a pleasant one.

I didn’t realize this until Sunday night but I am pretty sure Grace only swam the 500 free as punishment to me for putting her in 200 IM and 200 fly as back to back events on Sunday.  It took four hours door to door for a race that lasted less than six minutes.  Cost me $5 each way in tolls, dinner for her and $12 in gas.  Why was I laughing?  Was she getting the last laugh?

Day two starts in ten hours.

pool 1

The big 1-1

Moving on up.  Age groups that is.  Sarah turns 11 today.  Sarah came into this world bright red and screaming.  She had this crazy patch of red fuzz on the top of her head.  She looked a little like a rooster.  She tells the story that she looked like a chicken.  I have to correct her.  Roosters are much cuter than chickens you know.  She aslo was my Sarah Bear and Kitty.  Sarah Bear is a required nickname if your name is Sarah.  Sarah is very cold natured and she is a cuddler.  She likes to have her back rubbed and I swear she purrs like a kitty.  There is an animal connection with her,  she has always said she wants to be a marine biologist.

The red hair disappeared shortly thereafter but Sarah will forever be my closet redhead.  She has spunk, determination and her competitive nature is fierce.  She will set the world on fire.  Maybe burn a bridge or two as well.  Most importantly, Sarah is a strong child.

Last year we lost our family pet the day before Sarah’s birthday.  It’s a day I will never forget.  Sarah was just a day shy of 10 but showed a level of maturity that I didn’t even possess.  She was very close to MoJo and when we decided it was time to give him some peace she made the decision to go with me.  Chris was out-of-town and we knew MoJo was in pain.  She and I sat and comforted MoJo until the end.  Although it was a very sad day for us, Sarah was my strength that day.  It will be years before she will ever understand how much her being there meant to me.  And how much respect I gained for her that day.  We butt heads because of her strong will but I hope she never loses it either.  It will serve her well in life.

We have a swim meet this weekend and Sarah will be swimming with 11-12’s since the meet starts on her birthday.  Most kids would be disappointed.  Sarah is thrilled.  Her best buddy on the swim team aged up a few weeks ago.  It is a tradition that the birthday kid brings donuts to practice.  Sarah’s coach had all the kids sing happy birthday to her and then he threw her in the pool.  She almost looked embarrassed, a year ago she would have thought this was the coolest thing ever.  I think secretly she thought it was this year too!

Swim fast Sarah.  We love you.
MoJo, we miss you.

Was I a Tiger Mom?

Shortly after posting about my run in with Sarah and her homework pass my mother sent me a text.  Was I a Tiger Mom?

My response was unapologetic.  No.

My mother was far from a Tiger Mom and is certainly not a Tiger Grandma.  As a matter of fact I have had to remind her not to text or play Words With Friends with my girls after 9 PM.  Not once but twice I have told her.  I caught Sarah texting at 10 PM last night with none other than Grandma!  She is skating on thin ice!  Grandma that is.  No isn’t in her vocabulary and her only goal in life is for everyone to be her friend.  Her parenting style wasn’t any different from her Grandparenting style.

I really do believe that nature plays a huge role in who we become as adults and nurture isn’t as important.  Personality is luck of the draw and that is pretty much determined and not to be changed at the moment of birth.  Our job as parents is to keep that little personality on the right track.

Parenting is something we have to figure out on our own.  Above all else, it has to be organic to us.  I have to raise my kids in a way that feels natural to me.  Some may chose a different path.  Regardless, we are all trying to raise amazing young adults.

I am not qualified to give parenting advice.  Nor are my writings intended to be taken as such.  I am simply speaking from the heart about things going on in my life and that of my families.  As far as parenting goes, I often hear people say “I have no idea what I am doing”.    I don’t feel that way at all.  I know exactly what I am doing.  I am just not sure it will work.

No mom, you weren’t a Tiger Mom.  You are a great mom though.  But no more texting after 9 PM.  Or I will make dad take your phone away.