Saturday, June 27, 2015


What would summer blogging be without a few posts detailing the agony, the ecstasy that is swim team?

So here we go . . .

I was reflecting the other day on how so many adjectives are overused. Awesome no longer means awesome because pizza, rather than the Grand Canyon, is awesome. Amazing falls a little flat when we talk about a deal on a pair of shoes rather than a baby's first smile. Epic, in adjective form, is a word I picked up from Tim. We have epic road trips and epic term papers and, oh, so many, many things that apparently rival the Peloponnesian War or the Battle of the Bulge, and, thus, they are

Hyperbole aside, these swim meets -- oh, these swim meets -- epic, I say, epic.

In truth, the season didn't start out this way. Meet One was forty-five minutes away, but the drive was pleasant, the weather cooperative. The only snafu occurred when I lined up my tiny, tiny girls for their relay . . . and realized that two swimmers in lane five on my end of the pool would never meet up with the other half of the relay waiting in lane 1. That problem solved, the rest of the meet went, well, swimmingly. We were roughly 75% done when my friend -- a swim team rookie -- started commenting on how long it all was running, how her husband had expected her home around nine. I think it was nine o'clock that caught my attention. I realized then that somewhere along the way, I had morphed into a grizzled veteran of swim meets. Nine o'clock end time? Not anywhere on my radar. Not even close. I patted my friend and murmured a few encouraging words.

Then I got completely lost on the way home and the forty-five minute drive turned into ninety minutes. And my phone ran out of juice. And by the time I got home, the not so very epic swim meet was approaching epic status and fast.

The next meet proved fortuitous for my friend, the swim team rookie. We reached the mystical halfway point (the point at which the meet can be cancelled and doesn't need to be rescheduled) and the sky opened up. Thankfully Dave was a tad more observant than I. Start rounding up the gear, he suggested, pointing to an ominous sky. Good move, honey. There's nothing like scrounging for a lost flip flop and a wayward pair of goggles in the middle of a gully-washer.

Meet Three was very nearly my Waterloo. I never got the official temp -- in the range of 100 to 102. I started prepping for the meet at noon because I had agreed to bring coolers of water for the timers. I left for the meet at 4:00. It started at 6:00! I am the shepherd for the little girls, ages five and six. Around 5:00 they started asking, "When do we line up?"

Bless their sweaty little hearts.

I told them, "Not for a long time, girls!"

As meets go, this was a short one, meaning we finished about 9:30. We were all keyed up because John was extremely keyed up because he was swimming his first individual medley, one pool length of each stroke and a big deal when you're seven.

After the meet the coaches announced that the pool was open for free swim. This was not news parents who had been poolside for six hours wanted to hear. No, no, no. I think the parents, one and all, were ready to mutiny. Kolbe and John gleefully jumped into the pool they had just exited and would enter once again at practice which would take place in a mere eleven and a half hours. Ainsley, meanwhile, burst into great, gusty sobs because she didn't have a bathing suit.

God looked on me with great favor and sent a bolt of lightening in the midst of glee and anguish. Pool closed. Parents' mutiny cancelled.

And then there was last night.

We arrived and started getting settled into our corner of the lawn. And then the sky began to darken. The fact that I had washed, dried, and flat-ironed my hair should have been my first clue that a veritable cyclone was in the forecast. Eyeing the clouds, I started repacking what I had just unloaded. And the sky opened up yet again. Ainsley and I fled to the pavilion where we still got positively soaked, so hard was the combination of wind and rain.

Thirty minutes later we started the meet in temps 20 degrees cooler than the previous week.

Worth every last sodden towel I had to haul home!

All would have been well save for John who was not feeling great. He had nailed his first individual medley the previous week, but limped through his second, touched the wall with one hand instead of two, and found himself disqualified.

We finished about 10:15 and then, oh joy, open swim! Dave was a sporting Dad and offered to stay while the boys took a dip. We crashed about midnight and were back at the pool at 9:00.

"Weren't we just here," I asked a few bleary-eyed moms as I trudged up the hill, coffee in hand.

I had noticed John's energy flagging as the weeks have gone on. I asked my friend Rachel about perhaps, just maybe, hinting that we might hold practice a little later the morning after the meets. But the thing of it is, all these young coaches are year-round swimmers. If there's something I've learned in three years of swim team it's this: Summer league is small potatoes. Real swimmers do year-round swimming. And they do it early. Early as in 6:00 a.m. and, as I understand it, this happens six days a week. Most of the older swimmers on our team arrive for our 9:00 a.m. practices having already spent several hours at the nearby aquatics center.

I'm guessing they have precious little sympathy for pathetic summer league swimmers and their wimpy mothers who are a tad worn out.

I kept my mouth shut.

The coaches coax swimmers to morning after practices by offering ribbons, donuts, and water polo. I asked John if he wanted to sleep in, and he said thanks but no thanks.

Division Meet Sunday, All Stars on Monday, and then we're done. And despite all the drama -- the weather, the nerves, the DQ, the ribbons or lack thereof -- I love this sport.

And just look at the picture of my girl Ainsley. Cautious is her middle name, athletically inclined she is not. After prodding and bribing and coaxing and encouraging and offering half the Anna and Elsa loot available in this hemisphere, she said "I'm jumping off the block and swimming."

And she did (with a little help from the rope).

1 comment:

Kris said...

I always love your swim team recaps, mostly because I can just sit and nod my head in unity and sympathy! We finished this weekend,with Divisionals and Finals. My oldest son was a full-time coach this summer, having worked his way up through the ranks of swimming since he was 4. It was a joy to behold, my introverted son, inspiring things in the tiny swimming crowd. They loved him and so did the parents. It does a momma's heart good. And don't you just love these newbie swim parents?! 9:30 - hahahahaha!! Bless their little hearts.