For more than 90 Saturday’s between June and late July, I always knew where I would be — on a 14 -year journey that showed me what community and compassionate mean in the busy rush of our 21st Century lives. This summer I am former summer swim parent. My swimmer girl just returned from college, where she did earn a swimming athletic scholarship, but there are no more outdoor, community swim races left. No more timing, score keep, marshaling, or announcing. Most of all there is no more cheering and cheering Summer swim is just a memory and leaving a void that is hard to comprehend. The season has not started. But I miss it. Here is what I miss the most.
1. Summer swim creates a sense of community in a runaway train kind of world. You get to know your neighbors at meets, pep rallies and pasta dinners. For a few short months, you get a taste of life in the slow lane.
2. Summer swim connects the little kids just learning to swim with the competitors in their last season. Little kids and teens are together as a team. And the older ones learn just as much as those starting out. Swim fans cheer as loudly for the nail biter races so common in swimming short distances as they do for the six-year old finishing their first 25 fly. It’s the perfect storm of possibilities and memories.
3. Swimmers learn what team means. Because of the way these meets are scored, swimmers are challenged outside of their comfort zone for the good of the team. My daughter, a lifelong flyer, swam back in her last relay carnival because it was what the team needed. This teaches our children to be flexible, brave, and determined. These are some of best life lessons.
4. Spirit is the heart of summer swim. Cars are decorated. Coaches dress up as super heroes. Parents caravan to away meets and gather for lunch when the meet is over. The sport provides both competition as well as development. The cheering when the meet comes down to the very last mixed age relay can be heard for a mile. Even if you’re not in pool, everyone is caught up in the moment.
5. Most of all, I’ll miss making memories. My home and heart are filled with summer swim moments. Perhaps, my favorite is the one I only saw on video when my daughter just barely out-touched an opponent in fly the morning after her grandma died. Because swim parents are the very best, I was immediately sent the footage. Swimming with the wings of angels. When I watched her last NVSL race last summer and tried to tape it, I got a lot of pool pavement. I knew something special was ending. So I guess savoring the moment took over.
Summer Swim, I will miss you. But am grateful for those 90 plus Saturdays of wonder.
About Donna Hale
Donna Hale has been a swim mom for 15 years. Her daughter Hannah swims for the Davis and Elkins Senators.