Courtesy of Swim Mom Margaret Blood
Why don’t you put the kids on the swim team? It was 13 years ago when a parent from my summer pool club said these words to me. Those 10 words altered the course of my family’s lives for the next 13 years – in a very good way. Summer swim lead to winter swim, which lead to long course then High School swimming and finally today, to both my children swimming for Division I college teams. During this time I have laughed, cried, complained, driven to the far ends of our state, and watched thousands of swim races. Looking back I would not have changed a thing. Now that my time as a club swimming mom is coming to an end I have realized that there are 5 things I will truly miss.
1. First Warm-ups
Yes, those warm-ups that occur very early in the morning before the sun comes up. But the reason may surprise you; a cup of coffee. There is no better tasting cup of coffee then the coffee obtained from the only coffee shop open at 5am on a Saturday morning in January, with the threat of a snow storm on the horizon as you drive to a first warm up at a pool an hour and a half away. That cup of coffee rivals any glass of fine wine. This is when you really understand the power of a cup of coffee. All other cups of coffee pale in comparison.
2. Time standards
Time is a funny thing. Seconds, one hundredths of a second, one thousandths of a second go unnoticed every day. Things are not affected by this small amount of time. However, to my swimmer in the pool and me cheering in the stands a great victory was celebrated over .01 of a second. I’ll always remember the day my daughter swam a 59.99 in the 100 freestyle after a whole season of swimming a 1:00 plus. I celebrate the day they made their first JO cut by .01, the day they got their first national cut by .01 and the day they set their first pool record by .01; nowhere else did one one-thousandth of a second mean more to me then when they were in the pool.
3. Morning Practices
Getting up at 4:45am to drive to my children to the pool for a 5am morning practice is never fun but the reward can be great. The words I dreaded most from my teenager on a Friday night were; I’m going out. Those words become more dreaded once they began to drive. However, mix 3 days of 5am practices, 5 days of afternoon practice, all weekend swim meet with finals, homework and a little thing called school, and many a Friday night at my house the most wonderful words to hear became; I’m going to bed. Music to my ears.
4. All Weekend Swim Meets
It was always a great feeling when I set up my beach chair in a hallway or gym or I found that perfect seat in the stands and I realized that for the next four, maybe five hours, I could just read. That was exactly what I did. Sure I would watch my kids swim but for the bulk of the day they were also sitting on the pool deck. So, my time was my own. I have read hundreds of books. I have shared book titles with those around me and received many a great book suggestion. I have even been part of an impromptu book club right there in the stands with parents from the other teams when they saw what I was reading.
5. Long Drives
Now some of you may be thinking I am crazy and I would have even said I am crazy for thinking this just a few short years ago, but these drives became uninterrupted time with my children. We were trapped in a car together and there was nothing else to do but talk. I learned about their school life, their friends, and their musical tastes. I learned a whole lot about swimming and other swimmers. I gave my encouragement for the meet ahead, gave my advice about a problem they shared, and was even able to sneak in a little real music; Bon Jovi, Bruce and Bono.
I am far from done with swimming. I still have two children in the MAAC college conference, swimming at different schools so I will still be pool side for a while longer. Except now, it will be every once in a while when the meets are close to home. I’ll go well after warm-ups and the focus will no longer be on their time but rather on the team’s score. But rest assured, I‘ll be the mom at our summer pool club who says to another mother with young children; “why don’t you put your kids on the swim team. It just may be the best 13 years of your life!”