Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Anatomy of a Swim Meet

I have three kids and they all swim on a swim team every summer. I decided to capture my experience at a morning swim meet, for those of you not in the water cult.

6:00am: Wake up, drink coffee. Wake up grouchy children.

6:45am: Arrive at pool. Parking lot is already full. Let the kids out and park far away. Carry/drag chairs, bags and a cooler as if I were large pack animal. It occurs to me suddenly that as mother of three there is no denying that I am a large pack animal.

6:58am: Small miracle occurs. I find a great place to set up chairs, etc. Next to friends. With a good view of the pool. In full shade. Wish I'd brought a sweatshirt actually, is kind of chilly.

7:00 am: Kids jump into the freezing cold pool for warm ups and exchange looks with each other like - WHY DO WE DO THIS AGAIN?

7:30am: Children begin harassing me for money for the snack bar. I try to hand them something healthy from the cooler. Suddenly every other kid at the swim meet is eating large, chocolate-frosted donuts.

8:00am: A 10th grader is now singing the National Anthem. She is really good. Why do I get slightly (and embarrassingly) choked up by this, yet again? And why is it a surprise every time when it does? I am dumb.

8:05am: Child #1 swims and makes it across the pool without a near-fatal drowning accident occurring. Success!

8:25am: Children 2 & 3 have raced and I screamed my head off to KICK! KICK! KICK! even though I know perfectly well that they can't hear me underwater and so it's pointless. I don't want to yell KICK! KICK! KICK! But it just comes out.

8:30am: Give in and take kids to the snack bar for donuts (as I am out of coffee anyway).

8:55am: Child #2 runs over to me, dripping wet and beaming. "Did you see that, Mommy?! Did you see that?!" I blink twice and answer: "Yes! That was awesome! Here have a dollar! Go get another donut!" The moms sitting next to me giggle.

9:00am: Still cursing myself for participating in a sport where if you get distracted for literally 30 seconds you miss the whole thing.

9:20am: Child #3 swims her best time ever and is so happy she can't stand it. It might be the best feeling in the world.

9:40am: Feel momentary surge of guilt for not volunteering today. Then remember that husband is traveling and I'm on my own with the kiddos. And also how I stayed until 10:30pm to move chairs around on the pool deck and take out trash at the night meet last week.

10:05am: At some point, the kids drag the cooler of healthy snacks over to the picnic area. I go to retrieve it and observe that all of the food in it appears to have been consumed by wolves.

10:15am: Get to see lots of familiar faces and families from last year, which is great. Why do all these kids keep growing so much? Dear GOD - that one has a mustache. Last year he was playing with Pokemon.

10:20: Child #2 has apparently forgotten how to do the backstroke and gets disqualified. He is devastated for five minutes and then says: "I'm hungry! Can I have a donut?"

10:30am: A kid is swimming breaststroke for the first time. He is tiny and can barely make it across the pool. All the other swimmers in the race have finished and are hanging onto the wall, watching him. He looks around and sees he's dead last. He starts to sag in the water. Parents who don't even know the kid begin to cheer their hearts out. KICK! KICK! KICK! Teenage coaches from the other team start clapping for him and running up and down the side of the pool. He touches the wall and the whole place goes nuts for him. The swimmers in the lanes on either side of him shake his hand and pat him on the back.

10:40am: Still thinking about how happy I am for participating in a sport where a kid who comes in last still walks away feeling awesome.

10:45am: My chair is now in full sun and it's hot as balls.

10:49am: The timers are switching to the other side of the pool and "Gagnam Style" starts to play over the speakers. A horde of small children start to boogie down. Some of them know all the moves and it quickly becomes a dance battle for the ages.

10:55am: Child #3 swims her hardest and gets crushed by the kids who train all winter. She's still smiling because she beat her best time.

10:59am: Child #2 wanders over and says: "I'M HUNGRY".

11:05am: Misplace my youngest child, age 5. Find her sitting with John Ross, a 15 year old boy she adores, who is very patiently discussing Spiderman with her. I ask her to come back to our chairs. She glares at me and says: "WE ARE TALKING. ABOUT SPIDERMAN."

11:30am: The crowd has thinned and the meet is winding down. Watching the teenagers swim Butterfly now. It's kind of beautiful. I make a comment about this to my kids, in the hopes that they'll watch and really observe how it's done when it's done well. The big kids glance at the race for 2/5 of a second then go back to playing Uno in a towel fort with their friends. The little one is asleep in a lounge chair with a ring pop dangling off one finger.

Noon: Arrive home. Face sunburned to a bright red. Want to collapse into the dark, air conditioned living room and not move ever again.

12:05pm: Child #3 wanders into the living room and says: "I'm bored. Can we go to the pool?"

(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013

47 comments:

  1. Sounds like a perfect re-cap of what I'm in for this summer - minus one child :-)

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  2. I get choked up every damn time, too.

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  3. My daughter competes year round and I love it. Definitely need to invest in a bleacher cushion as my rear is screaming about 2 hours into an 8 hr meet but I wouldn't stop doing this for anything.

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    1. Did it from 5th grade to sophomore in college. Started with 3 kids only 1 stayed with it through college. I would do it all over again. Special time with your kids all kinds of emotions and life experiences.

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  4. Damn it Lydia. I cried at 10:30. That is AWESOME. But then I crazy laughed at 11:05. I'm a big fan of the mini. I think she needs her own twitter!

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  5. this can be your sherpa
    http://www.bedbathandbeyond.ca/store/product/beach-caddy-deluxe/1041721483?categoryId=20591

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    1. That looks like the shopping carts at JC Penny and Kohls! LOL

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  6. I get choked up EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I hear the National Anthem. When my nieces and nephew were on the swim team, I took my husband (then boyfriend) to one of the meets. He couldn't believe it! He said it was like tailgaiting at a Mountaineers Football game. Minus the beer, it pretty much was.

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  7. Two words from a sports Mom. Collapse wagon

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  8. Awww this brings me back to my youth. I can almost taste the donuts.

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  9. YESSSS! You have captured the beauty of a swim meet perfectly. And I know because this is my whole entire fall/winter/spring.

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  10. Totally spot on! So thoroughly enjoyed reading what ALL swim team parents, regardless of how many kids you have, experience!

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  11. Swim dad here, I can relate. I've been doing it so long I decided to take the officiating class because heck, I'm going to be there anyway! You can read my account on my blog (http://nostrikethat.com/2014/06/17/official-ly-delusional/). Linking back to you!

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  12. Best recap of the best summer sport ever!

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  13. I am a dad, and a swim mom posted this on facebook, which is how I saw it. Just funny. I am year 4 as a swim dad and now moved to year round swim. This was funny.

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  14. AWESOME article...so true!!! You hit it all on the head!

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  15. 8 and Under swims 25 freestyle, lacking the style part, finishes last by a minute, touches and asks "did I win?"

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    1. Wonderful! She won!

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  16. OMG, Exactly !!!

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  17. This beautiful blog made me both laugh and cry. Four swimmers, 26 years of swim meets from 8 and under through college, chlorine bleached hair, sunburns, lost goggles and bathing suits, junk food. turquoise stained mouth from Gatorade, heart aches, cheering for that little person swimming their first 25 free, missing heats (the urge to kill) because they were under those towel tents, missing an event because I turned my back (major guilt) soggy undone homework in the bottom of swim bags and the last one out of the locker room after morning practice....................four wonderful happily married adults and parents............no regrets. My advice don't turn your back because the day comes when the towels remain folded and the snack stand becomes a memory that is until I hear "grandma, I am starving".

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    1. Oh, how I am dreading the folded towels! All these years of swimming, youngest two are swimming in college and I coached (volunteer). Nothing like the smell of chlorine in the morning!

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  18. this made me tear up and Laugh out loud !!! It's Brilliant !!!

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  19. Perfect! Yes, yes, yes. I live in Los Angeles, and guess what? They are YEAR ROUND out here! It never ends! I will now accept your sympathy.

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  20. As a child that swam, you can hear your parents voice while swimming; especially during backstroke events.

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  21. As a swim mom of 2, this is spot-on perfect! I usually help time so that I don't miss an event. Much easier to do now that my youngest is 8 and doesn't need constant supervision. Oh, and I bought a collapsible wagon today! Should make transporting all the "stuff" much easier.

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  22. Perfect! !!! I miss it..those special days with the kids. ..all of them. ..and it's been. .almost 30 years. ..my swimmers. ..all good responsible dependable adults not just mine but all the swimmers in our little city swim club!

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  23. As a mom of 3 swimmers, the oldest being a 17 year old who began competing at age 7, this is truly the best description of a summer swim meet. All 3 of my swimmers swim club, summer season & my 17 year old also swims high school. The 8 & 10 year old are following in their brothers footsteps. I've got several more years of this ahead of me. Absolutely love it!

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  24. All perfect... Except for those of us with kids across the age barrier... That would include entertain the non-swimmer during and then finally... REPEAT ALL until 6pm!

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  25. I so agree! My last one (of 2) finished her junior year and last year of college swimming. We have been going to these meets for 18 years. I miss it. The camaraderie with fellow swim parents and the hot and terribly humid evenings provide memories that can't be beat. Thanks for this blog.

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  26. Yes! Snap, snap, snap. Same experiences exactly ... except for the doughnuts - I have to stand my ground over the 'no snow-cones rule' with my two kids even though I find myself volunteering to make them :(

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  27. This is so true....sums up my Saturday perfectly...except I only have 1 kid. :)

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  28. You were finished by noon??? Our summer swim club starts bright and early but you are lucky to get home by 7 pm on day 1, 4 pm on day 2!!! Great overview and I wouldn't miss summer swimming for the world.

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  29. LOL. Yep. Get there early - warm up, sit around for 2 hours, swim for a few seconds, sit around another hour, swim a few seconds, sit around.
    I have 3 kids and a husband who travels too.
    Warm up at 7am always seems pointless to me.

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    1. I know 7am warm-up seems pointless, but as a assist-coach who spent an hour re-arranging our relays because we found out 3 were sick/no-shows, documenting the scratches and replacements, making sure everyone could swim those relays....while the head coach added all the walk-ons into the computer...I can vouch...we need the extra time. Hehe.

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  30. I love this. My brother and I were swim kids and this is dead on! Now, I know how my Mom felt at all those swim meets. We absolutely loved them and not because we were amazing swimmers!

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  31. Competitive swimmer from age 11 to college, followed it up by coaching swimming for 3 years in summer league. I've been there, done this - thanks for your post. I laughed 'til I cried. You reminded me of some of the best things in my life that I'd forgotten about.

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  32. Oh my goodness, I was on the swim team for ages and I don't know how my parents put up with it. I'm an only child, so my parents had to sit around for half the day to watch me swim for all of a minute (if I was being really slow). Of course, then I made it even more annoying for them by taking up sports where you sit around for hours to only see your kid at the very, very end (crew, mainly).

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  33. Perfect description. I swam myself years ago and my 3 kids swam too. Oldest started in 1995 at age 6. Swam through college. Youngest is 13 and so I am still doing it. I think I should get the award for longest swim mom! Will be there tonight if it quits raining. Still love it!

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  34. I swam on a summer recreational team for 12 years and started coaching while swimming in community college. I am now coaching again AND have two kids swimming. This is the perfect description of what goes on during the meets. I agree with the, "you were done by 12?" We were lucky to be done by 2 when I was swimming!

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  35. Loved this article...I chuckled the whole way through it!!! TY

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  36. As a Gram I attend all the meets...even the end of season championship meets..yes it is a lot of work but the kids that swim are a great bunch and have a very special camaraderie. Wouldn't miss it!!

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  37. This is great. As a mostly single parent, a dad, I identify with all this. Got to be honest, though. These posts always put me off a little. The sentiment is great, but it isn't limited to moms. All of these things may be even more poignant to a parent, male or female, who does it on there on.

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  38. http://christinasbooks.com/blog/2014/06/youre-kid-wants-join-swim-team.html
    I loved this post! Here's my swim team summer...

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  39. Somehow ran across this on Huffington Post. Laughed so hard because everything you wrote is exactly what I go through at a swim meet! Clicked on your website so I could leave you a comment. I will have to print this and save it because it SO classic. Great job!

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  40. So true. .......
    Swim Mom now Swim grandmother.

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  41. This was our first year on swim team, and I feel like you have done a wonderful job recounting the experience. It is a special, lovely community all its own, and I am glad our family was able to share in it!

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