What not to wear

I am always shocked by what people wear to swim meets.  I suspect many of the fashion victim must have boys.  I spend my time in the closet trying to avoid the “is that what you are wearing” look from my daughter.  She has learned not to ask, now I just get the look.  I personally think I am pretty fashionable.  Most of the time Grace is wearing something of mine.  If I am not on the mark I am pretty close to it.

I always wonder what people are thinking when they get dressed for a swim meet.  The “I just rolled out of bed” look is actually perfectly acceptable at a swim meet.  The “I am having dinner later in Georgetown” look?  Not so much.

The bottom line, dress for comfort.  It doesn’t matter how cold it is outside, it will be warm – no hot – inside.  When I shop, I have swim meets in mind.  I like Cotton layers.   I usually wear a pullover hoodie, I can fold it up and use it to cushion my bum during meets.  Tank top, followed by lightweight long sleeve t-shirt and a hoodie.  I am a big fan of leggings and ballet flats.  Here are a few simple rules.

1.  If you are going to strip down to your tank top, wear an appropriate bra.   Support matters.  Tuck the straps in.  Look at your self in the mirror in just the tank before you start layering.  Shave your pits and wear some deodorant, especially if you plan to throw your arms in the air and yell.

2.  Make sure the tank covers your butt crack.  This is so easy to do.  Sit down in a chair and bend forward, elbows resting on the top of your legs.  Reach around with one hand and feel the base of your spine.  Or get a kid to take a photo.  Because that is exactly what the person behind you is looking at for the next four hours.

3.  Time to layer up.  Make sure that you can take off your next layer without looking like you are taking off a straight jacket.  If you can’t get it off with out elbowing your neighbor, don’t wear it.

4.  Wear any pants/shorts/leggings you want.  Watch the butt crack and watch the camel toe if you are in leggings.  Other than that, anything works.

Finally, chose shoes that are comfortable.  I often go with flip flops or ballet flats.  Leave the steel toed work boots at home.  There is a very good chance that at some point in the day you are going to kick someone.  Be kind.

Please don’t pick your toes.  It is creepy.  If you wear flip flops in the dead of winter you will probably figure out you need a pedicure.  While there is lots of time at a swim meet, this is neither the time nor place to do it.  Don’t laugh, my friend sat next to someone painting their nails at  swim meet.  She didn’t enjoy it.  A few months ago she sat next to me right after I had taught a spin class.  She says she is sensitive to smells.  Fortunately I had followed my own rules and threw on some deodorant.  Perfume at a meet?  Oh please don’t.

I’m thinking about getting a swim mom t-shirt.  Because that isn’t painfully obvious.

My go to store for swim meet apparel?  Lululemon.  While you are there, pick me up something too.  I will take one of anything.

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!

Do we have practice tonight?

We survived Hurricane Sandy.  We didn’t lose our power and didn’t even notice the high winds.  Our house must be positioned just right as many of our friends heard howling winds all night.  We slept like babies.  Watching the news this morning I am very grateful we didn’t have the flooding or power loss that others did.

The first thing Grace asked me this morning was “do we have practice tonight?”.  Ironically enough, that was the first thing I asked my good friend J who is also a coach!  Practice tonight is still up in the air.

On one hand I am really excited that my kids first waking thought is “do we get to go to practice tonight???”.  On the other hand I have to wonder why she asked via text when she was in the room right next to me.  I would love to say we aren’t lazy people but I am not so sure.

Speaking of lazy, I am enjoying this slow start to the day.  I can’t remember the last time I was able to sit at the computer drinking a cup of coffee at 10 am.  We aren’t the types to sit around enjoying a lazy morning although when forced to do it I wonder why we don’t do it more often.  I think we need to make this more of a habit.  Minus the hurricane of course.



The first last mini meet ever

Last Saturday was the first mini meet of the season.  Sophie is 8 and in her final year with minis!  Starting in April she will swim in the big leagues – you know the 9-10’s!  It is the beginning of the end.

I used to dread the mini meets and now I realize I am going to miss them.

There was a time that I thought the parents at the mini meets were absolute idiots.  Either they had no idea what they were doing (as IF I knew what I was doing when Grace was 6, I didn’t know butterfly from breaststroke for two years) or they were so obnoxious about their swim prodigy that I found myself wanting to throw them in the pool.

I sat at that meet with a sense of pride, I had survived minis three times.  Sophie, who would cry before meets, was now beaming with pride being one of the older swimmers in the group.  Grace never waves at me from behind the block or gives me the two thumbs up before the race.  Sarah only comes in the stands for money.  Sophie comes for wet hugs.  Grace and Sarah know their finish time to the exact moment.  Sophie finished her 100 freestyle in “A minute something”.  She dances while she waiting for her turn to swim, picks her wedgies, eats a donut between every race and hugs her friends before and after they race.  They play silly games and laugh.  I sit with friends and cry, tears of joy and pride.  For their kids and mine.

At this meet several of my friends kids raced for the first time ever.   They were all amazing and adorable.  One little girl, a friend of mines daughter, lost her tooth moments before her race.  She ran to mom, handed over the tooth, ran back and swam!  This doesn’t happen in the big leagues.

I am going to enjoy every moment of the mini meets I attend this year.  It is bittersweet.

Sophie had a great meet.  Dancing, donuts and diving.

I want to be a Gypsy

After a two-week swim meet turned vacation that involved 6 states and 3,000 miles you would think I would be happy to be home.  I’m not.

When the kids were younger I despised road trips.  When Sophie (8) was just a baby, I would make the trek from Ohio to North Carolina alone – several times a year.  Sarah who was barely 2 was prone to car sickness.  We had this “spot” in the mountains of Virginia where she would projectile vomit.  I pulled over at the exact same stop in the mountains every single trip (both directions) to clean up.  I did get smart after the first few incidents and I moved her car seat to the passenger side.  One, two or all three were always screaming at some point in the trip.  The minivan was appointed with the required DVD player and we would watch the same movies over and over again hoping for any amount of peace and quiet.  I bought the entire stock of pacifiers from Target for Sophie and would just keep handing them back as she would lose them.  By the time we arrived at our destination the entire car floor was covered in wayward pacifiers and mashed up food particles.  I would chug wine immediately upon arrival.  I swore that I hated road trips and always promised “this would be my last”.

Fast forward 8 years.  The girls either sleep, read or listen to music in the car.  Oh, and they keep me company.  With interesting conversation.  Our life is hectic and busy and we really don’t spend as much time as we should just being in each others company.   We laughed, played trivia and belted out Taylor Swift songs.  I enjoyed the conversations but also the silence, I found a certain peace in it.  I savoured the glass of wine at the end of the trip.

I was surprised to learn most of my friends thought I was crazy for taking this journey with the girls.  I tried to reassure them that 8 years is a lot of time and much can change.  They walked away shaking their heads, not persuaded.

The last few hours of our trip we started planning next years adventure.  I am going to enjoy these moments in time while I can.   In six years Grace is off to college, two years later Sarah will be on her way and two years Sophie will leave me.  Then they will all be gone.  Chris and I would love to travel the world and hang out on beaches when they move on but at that point we will be completely broke and may have to live with one of them after paying for swimming, braces, vacations, colleges and weddings.  I hope if we are good to them now they will take pity on us someday.

In the meanwhile, I decided I want to be a Gypsy.  We can get a Winnebago and drive around the country (primarily the parts with beaches and no snow).   I am probably not mentally equipped to home school but they have all that set up on the internet these days.  Chris can be their swim coach.  We will need to figure out how to pull the 25 yard pool off the back of that thing but that’s just a small detail to be ironed out.  Totally doable.

Time to rewrite the goals

Last September I said these words to Grace:


She did.  She said she wanted to go to Zones.

I knew instantly why.  Grace wanted the sweat suit, t-shirts, cap, suit and swim bag.  She likes crap that screams “I did something great”!  Go ahead and judge me.  I am fine with that.  I was willing to write the check if she figured out how to get herself to zones.  And that she did.

Grace worked her ass off.  She never missed practice.  She didn’t talk during practice.  She tried.  Really hard.

Fast forward to today.  I put her on a bus.  Heading to Zones.  I don’t care how.  I don’t care why.  All I know is she did what she wanted.  She went to zones.

It isn’t likely that she will make finals.  I don’t really care.  In the end, it doesn’t really matter.  For the first time ever, Grace decided “hey, I want this” and she went after it…..She got it.

She is with a great group of kids, having the time of her life.  I tried not to be emotional as I dropped her off but the truth is I cried all the way home.  I am proud of all of my kids, all the time but this is a moment in time I won’t ever forget.

She will be 13 next year.  Being bottom of her age group won’t be easy.  But I don’t suspect that will stop her. We just need to find meets that give away good crap.


Medal and Ribbons and Trophies – oh my

I actually hate ribbons and trophies, especially when they are based solely on participation.  They become meaningless and tend to take up a lot of space.

This weekend my girls earned lots of ribbons, trophies and medals.  Some hard-fought victories and yes a few meaningless ones along the way.  There are a few I am quite proud of the girls for earning.

Grace won two medals in relays at Junior Olympics.  One second and one third place.  I am proud of her because her team enters three relays in the meets and she made the A relay for backstroke twice!

Grace also got a first place medal at Divisionals, breaking a pool record in 50 back.  Way to go Grace.

Our summer team decided to give participation trophies to all of the kids this year.  This was the first time since we joined the team four years ago.  They also gave specials awards.

Grace was the female high point winner for our team.  She learned the morning of our banquet that an award was not being given for high point.  She was disappointed.

We got to the banquet and there was a table full of trophies.  And then…a table full of big trophies.  All of the kids noticed the big ones.  It was going to be a big night.

The Junior Coaches on our team give out paper plate awards.  Sophie was presented with the Paper Plate Smiles award.  Remember, Sophie is the one who cried her entire first year of swim team!  Such a proud moment.

Later in the evening, the large trophies were handed out.  The trophies were handed out to amazing children.  A pair of friends who raised several thousand dollars for a boy on our team with leukemia.  An awesome little boy who cheers for every kid, on our team or not.

The last trophy was most improved.  I really wouldn’t expect any of my girls to receive this.  We are year round swimmers and as such, there is very little improvement in a 6 week time span.  Most club swimmers get tired and start getting slower at the end of the season.

I was wrong.  Grace was awarded the trophy for the most improved.  I was shocked.  She has always been a top swimmer on our team.

She was awarded the trophy for maturity both in and out of the water.  One week Grace offered to swim breast stroke instead of fly even though she would have gotten first in fly and ended up with second in breast.  Our top breaststroke swimmer was on vacation and without Grace we would have placed 4th at best.  She came ever day and coached preteam at 6 PM despite getting up every day at 5 AM for her own practices.  She came to every B meet and cheered on all the little kids, especially her favorite 5-year-old.  She swam with a level of confidence and maturity that she hadn’t in the past.  She was serious, dedicated and focused in the water and had fun outside the water.  In all honesty, she was a lot faster than she was last year.

I credit the coach for awarding this to her.  It comes a year after we left her club team.  She didn’t have to give the most improved swimmer to the kid who left her program and went on to swim at another.  But she did because she earned it.

Grace did earn it.  She didn’t improve this year because we changed teams.  She improved because she wanted it.  She wanted it so bad.  She worked hard and never gave up.  She is a remarkable young lady and I am proud to be her mom.

Sarah didn’t win an award but if there was one for the kid who ate the most nachos she was a sure bet.  She has her eye on that most improved trophy for next year.  This from a kid who wanted to quit swimming eight weeks ago.  Sarah can do anything she puts her mind to.

And Sophie – I just love her smile.

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.

The triple win

Saturday was our final meet of the season, this Saturday is divisional.

We have lost every single meet.  Despite all the losses, my kids have swam very well and have more than exceeded my expectations for the summer.  According to the virtual meet, this meet would be no exception – we were to lose.  Only difference, it was to be a close one.

Grace was expected to win all of her races.  And she did.  Barely.  She would like to tell you that she was giving the poor girl seeded #2 false hope that she could beat her by swimming slower than normal but the reality is Grace swam slow.  Excuse of the day, she had swimmers ear and was tired.  At the end of the day she brought home five blues so no one was pointing a finger at her if we lost.

Sarah and Sophie both swam as expected.  And ate nachos as expected.  Sarah had struggled to get her breast time in the past couple of weeks and was able to do that during the meet and was psyched. Still, it was a pretty uneventful meet.

Well, except my little fly girl.  Sophie had been swimming a very consistent time in her 25 fly but just knew she had more in her.  I watched her race from the side and could see it was close but she fought hard and brought home the blue.  It is hard to judge times in a 25 but I knew it was good when she ran faster than she swam, threw her soaking wet body around me and squeezed me tight.  I think she said I took a second off and then she disappeared to find dad.  It was the best hug ever.

Later they posted results and I was able to confirm that she had indeed taken a full second off.  I could not have been more proud.  Big sis Grace was quite proud too, as she pointed out that Sophie had hit her All-Star Time (a motivational time for our summer swim league).  Mother of the year, I hadn’t even noticed!  The hug won me over, what more did I need!  What a day.

We also won the meet!  By now you know that I don’t really care about stuff like that.  Although now I am wondering if that was a lie I was telling myself because it brought a tear to my eye seeing the joy on the kids faces!

On the way home Sarah told me “I don’t want to quit swimming”.  I am still smiling about that win as I pull out my check book.  I need to win the lottery…and soon.