Courtesy of Chris Weeks
It’s March which means championships are rounding out many of our seasons. I must confess that, on more than one occasion, in fact every occasion, I’ve prayed that my child beat your child; wished my team beat your team and believed my coach was better than your coach. Forgive me.
All I want for my children is to be happy, and as a parent I rationalize that my way is the right way. I convince myself that I provide the best opportunities for my children and that’s why my coach and team are best in my eyes. The truth is my kids aren’t the best, nor are my teams, nor coaches. But that’s okay, they’re mine. Here’s another truth. Competitive swimming provides an environment where kids, coaches and teams can better themselves and experience growth and achievement.
We had big plans this weekend at the 2015 YMCA East Field South District Championships. My eldest son had several Nationals cuts in his pocket, and my youngest son is 11 and still finding his strokes. I’ve got plenty of stories about my boys but we’ll save those for another time.
This is about my daughter. She was poised for her first individual Nationals cut. She had been working toward it all season, a few hundredths of a second at a time. She was a bundle of nerves and unfortunately was DQ’d on the 50 Free start. It was a good call. She was moving. I didn’t like it, but couldn’t argue with it. She was devastated. Fortunately, disappointment is commonplace on the pool deck and there’s plenty of experience and advice to go around. She needed some time to pull it together, but rallied and qualified for finals in her two other events of the day. She would end up second with a personal best in the 200 free and would win the B Final in the 200 fly. But that’s not the point of this letter.
Her coach entered her in the 50 free time trial that evening. She asked a friend from another team to swim with her. I’m told her friend stayed much later than she needed to just to pace my daughter in the time trial. By the time finals was over, my daughter was running on fumes, but she took a shot. Unfortunately she fell short…again. But this time she was okay. She tried and it wasn’t meant to be, at least not yet. But that’s not what is important.
During the time trial, there were more than a dozen girls, many of them rivals from multiple teams standing poolside cheering her on. The same girls that she works so hard to beat, that work so hard to beat her, were screaming for her to make the cut. My daughter is surrounded by a community that supports and cares for her. That’s what I realized this weekend. What more can a dad ask for? She’d have two more personal bests over the weekend and by Sunday evening was dancing on the blocks to the Village People. It was a great weekend.
I’m sorry for ever having rooted against you, your families or your teams. Thank you for raising, coaching and nurturing such beautiful kids. The future is bright both inside and outside the pool.