My faithful readers -- all twenty-two of you -- are on pins and needles anticipating the next dramatic installment of The Swim Team Chronicles. It's right up there with the Downton Abbey Christmas Special. Don't deny it. Move over, Julian Fellowes. Kelly's writing about the Tuesday night swim meet.
This week's tale begins with -- drum roll, please -- swim practice and a doctor's appointment. Did this week's appointment end on time? Did Kelly gas up the van? Did John swim the backstroke?
Practice your rotary breathing, everyone.
All was well, but we wound up just a few minutes late because swim meet requires:
1. People, properly outfitted
I am fairly capable in the equipment and people departments. It's the food that inevitably trips me up. In a loving attempt to provide my family with food that was not delivered, did not come packaged in Styrofoam, and was not served in a large cardboard box, I decided to pack a cooler of water, nice sandwiches, fruit, and, okay, a few Oatmeal Pies. The food set me back, not too far, but we were a tad late.
We had had another gully-washer just as we had arrived at the doctor's appointment, so we figured all was well weather-wise. Pre-disastered and all that. At this meet I had the all-important job of timer in lane 1. I was supposed to be a timer last week, and I showed up for the briefing and everything. The Timer In Charge kept saying "This is so simple, so simple" and then went on to explain that some of the heats were dive overs of swim overs, and we would therefore need not just one stop watch, but two. At that point my eyes began to roll back into my head, and my friend Judy kindly offered to take my place.
This week I emailed the Timer In Charge and asked for an easy lane. Let me tell you, Lane 1 is where it's at. I am so glad I highlighted my inexperience because it is a fast-paced job. You barely have time to reset the watch before the horn sounds and the next swimmers are in the water. The move-it-along mentality is the only thing preventing these meets from being seven hours instead of five, so I'll take a little stress and not whine too much.
My fledgling career as a timer was beset by two problems: First, a certain unidentified five-year-old repeatedly pestered me about toys he had left in the van, toys I certainly couldn't get my hands on in the middle of timing thirty-five races. And second, an unnamed teenager begged and begged for non-existent funds. Dehydration and malnutrition were imminent, but nameless remained wholly uninterested in anything in ye olde cooler of healthful offerings (and a few Oatmeal Pies).
My children are nothing if not persistent.
At heat 25 I realized we were a mere 33% of the way through the meet. And then the weather started to turn. A mother came up to me wondering how far along we had to be for the meet to be declared complete if it had to be called for weather. Apparently other pools were closing, and one had reported hail.
I've probably made these meets out to be misery, and they're not. But they are an investment. At that point, I had been standing poolside holding a timer for two hours. I really didn't want to do the whole gig over again a day or two later.
Apparently forty is the magic number. We hit race forty and slightly beyond, when the meet was declared done. And we won! And both Tim and John had personal bests! And since John is on a relay with a kid named Brennan who is lightning fast, I think he's guaranteed to win something every week.
We arrived home at a very reasonable hour. Ainsley was already asleep. John graciously offered to bring in the cooler. I was so impressed with his servant's heart and then I remembered there was one Oatmeal Pie left in the cooler. Not any more!
The morning after is always a shock. As I groaned and rolled out of bed, I remembered what I had forgotten the day before during my shock and awe run to the grocery story: coffee. Coffee! Not the Oatmeal Pies, not the milk, not the bread. The coffee!
I dashed to McDonald's and picked up a small coffee for me and a biscuit for Tim who was in a bit of a mood. As I walked up the front walk, I stumbled slightly and sent the coffee flying. I drove to swim practice, dropped Tim off, and headed for a second McDonald's where I gave serious thought to kissing the cashier as she took $1.08 and handed me my blessed brew. I sat on a bench and felt the strain seeping away and the equilibrium returning. Ahhhhh!
I called to John and Ainsley, "It's okay, kids. Mama's better now."
Tune in next week for the final chapter of this riveting season.