I blame you Ryan,

Michael, Katie and Missy for all that is wrong in my world right now – including the night of sleep I missed out on last night because I was really busy staring at the ceiling.

I should have seen it coming.  It was after all, an Olympic year.  And a glorious one at that.  OF COURSE millions of future gold medal wannabes are going to show up for swim team registration.  Well, a couple hundred at least. I was pleased to see it.  I have always one to encourage people to participate in the sport of swimming.  Especially my friends.  I like to sit with the cool kids at meets.  As long as my happy boat isn’t rocked, it is all good…

At the end of last years season Sarah was between two groups and was starting to practice some with the next higher group.  I thought it was a foregone conclusion that she would be in the  higher group this year.  As a formality, several of them that were in the same situation, had to come to the first evening of new swimmer evaluations to be officially placed in the group.  Or that is what we thought would happen.  What we didn’t know was that several hundred kids were going to show up on night one of two, in the hopes of also joining the group.  All would be well, IF there were several hundred spots open.  There were about 30.  A handful of kids were invited back to practice this week and continue the evaluation.  Most were sent away empty handed – heading back to the drawing board, looking for a team that has space available.  That in and of itself was heart breaking to watch.  Many of my friends were turned away, most with children who are very good swimmers.

Where does this leave Sarah?  Well…she will be in one of two groups.  The lower group has too many kids in it and she would be top of the group (from my previous post you already know I am not of a fan of that).  The higher group has more kids testing the waters this week (pun intended) than there are available spots.  She is one of them.  In other words, we don’t know.  I know that I don’t want her in the lower group.  I want her to be challenged, I like the coach, the practices are longer and more often.

She starts the evaluation tonight. I have given her specific instructions.  Work hard, be quiet, listen to the coach and puke if you have to in order to finish each set.  (In Grace’s group they get a milkshake if they puke from practicing too hard, don’t judge, it is a fable of sorts).  If this was a Toddlers and Tiaras episode I would give her a Red Bull and a Pixie Stix.  Sarah is hyper enough, I may play yoga music on the way to the pool to keep her calm.

The worst thing that could happen?  There isn’t one, she is guaranteed a spot as a returning swimmer.  I just have a desired outcome.  My heart goes out to all those families that didn’t get in.  It will work out.  It has to, I need my sleep!

I am really glad I didn’t listen to my kids and let them sign up for gymnastics.  I can only imagine….

Darn you Ryan.

Chosing a Team

There are many swim team options out there. They all cost way too much and each of them is better than the next – just ask them. We have opted to try them all. We have swim team confusion and are equal opportunity swimmers, sharing the Elliott love with everyone. Plus you never know when Consumer Reports will call and I feel like I could do one hell of a pros and cons piece on swim teams.

When you chose your first team, you really need to base your decision on the suits they wear. Bottom line, they need to be cute. After a year you will realize that while your child is arguably the cutest child to grace a pool deck, that they are a terrible swimmer.

There may not be a compulsory score in swimming but a good luck dance never hurts!

This is where your really journey begins. In the heat sheet at the next meet, you should highlight the names of the teams with kids with beautiful strokes. A pattern will emerge and the technique based team will be clear to you (what you will not see is that the kids on this team can’t win a race any longer than a 50). You will immediately move your children to this team. Undoubtedly, it will cost more and you will pass no less than five pools that host swim teams on your way to this team’s practice site but it will be well worth it because you now realize that swimming, much like dancing is an art and should be performed with elegance, grace and precision. You will spend your next two years here. No more no less.

Year one is tear down. Your little dumpling no longer has the 5th fastest backstroke in the county…..nope, it is now the worst. Fast no longer counts, it is all making it look good. They don’t rotate their shoulders properly, not enough kick and head is the absolute wrong position. You will spend the entire year praising the coaches for saving your child from potentially drowning in the middle of a race because their right hand will inevitably end up in their left ear and they legs will get tangled in the lane ropes. Their technique is just that bad.

Year two, your future Wheaties endorser will start to put that technique to good use and may actually start swimming a little faster. Once they have a few meets under their suit in this season, they will suddenly be swimming well again. BUT, and this is where things start to go south, their technique will start to suffer. And every practice will be 100% devoted to fixing all of the flaws. Future Ms. Wheaties will start looking like Ms. Dunkin Donuts as they start chubbing up from the complete and total lack of exercise they are getting at practice. Half laps will become quarter laps and then practice will actually become a lecture series taught at a desk with a dry erase board, detailing the exact moment and angle the right thumb should first enter the water. You slowly realize your kid can’t even complete a 100 anymore.

AND THEN. They can’t swim at all. They suffer from a medical condition that I call “swimmers block”. (I have an advanced medical degree from Web MD and Google). In other words, paralysis of the stroke sets in and so much thought goes into every movement in the water that the swimmer no longer can move with any acceleration. All strokes literally look like treading water. Year two involves a lot of tears, both child and mother. This is the point where the coaches begin to hate said mother because she is a neurotic lunatic. Unlike when she was pregnant, this is a fact mom will not protest.

Mom then spends the entire summer not sleeping, instead staring at the ceiling weighing the strengths and weaknesses of the FIVE area swim teams. She will develop bags under her eyes and carpal tunnel from spending so much time researching her “options”. Research should be done on all pools within a 1000 mile radius. A move is not out of the question. The nice thing about a move is it gives you a great reason to break up with your old team. Less messy.

September finally rolls around and the family piles in the minivan (aka swim taxi) and does the evaluation for the new team. Mom chews her nails down to the quick and the kids swim their butts off in order to impress the new judges. I forgot to mention that right before you “audition” for a new team it makes sense to feed the kids pixie sticks and Red Bull. When all is said and done, kids come running up screaming I LOVE IT and coaches say they have great stroke and they can fix their endurance. Check book comes out and it is official, team three now owns your child.

This is where we are now. My kids may look like a lawn mower in a pool but guess what, they are kicking some ass now. It took a while but I realized that there only one of two things can happen in a race, you either go slower than your best or faster. No one gives a shit what you look like. There is no compulsory score in swimming! How awesome is that?