Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Swim Team 2016

B's first race!  He won!
This is a long post as I have so many thoughts about swim team.  I'm going to intersperse them with photos from the season and some videos from the final swim meet. I had never even heard of neighborhood swimming teams until after we moved here and one of our neighbors suggested it.  I was immediately for it as the scheduling of swimming lessons for three kids in three different age groups has been an expensive debacle over the years and as I work more all the schlepping around town just wasn't feasible.  Lessons daily for 5 weeks in our neighborhood for less than two weeks elsewhere.  Done. Sign us up.  Brent and I agreed that swim team would be a mandatory activity for all age eligible children while we live here and off they went. Our babysitter walked them to most of the practices, but I got to attend a few.  It was awesome. 
Only away meet - B bravely swam breast stroke even though he wasn't sure he could.  M balked and refused to race.
There were, of course, some complications.  M had two camps already scheduled that conflicted with the swim practices, so she missed a big portion of it.  M also did the famous "Richard child balking" we're all so familiar with when she came out of warm ups at her first meet sobbing and refusing to swim.  B admitted he was nervous and he used to balk at many things and tried to help her through it...B swam breast stroke in that same meet even though he was nervous about it and not very confident in his stroke.  (Big Win!) 
Card for her first relay team race.
By the third meet, M was still nervous, but swam anyway and even lobbied her coach to put her in back stroke too--- and promptly won both races she was entered it.  By the fourth meet, she was on the relay team and celebrating!
Sibling picture after they both finished and won their relays. 
We had hoped they would make more friends with the neighborhood kids and I think they did.  That said they mostly became better friends with each other by being on the same team, which is a great outcome too.  They really looked out for each other and each made sure the other was ready when it was almost time for their race.  Love that.  They are much closer now than at the start of the summer, which is huge, especially when they are intrinsically so different.  
There were five meets.  The first four were usually 2-3 teams competing and all but one were in our neighborhood pool.  This resulted in a lot of ribbons won for our kids.  At the race picture above, they both won all blue ribbons.  We have a lot of other ribbons too.  Here the parenting started to get tricky as M began winning "all the things" even though B was practicing more and working harder.  There are a couple of reasons.  First, she really is just inherently good at this, but she is also swimming six and under and will turn 7 momentarily.  Also, she is a complete giant compared to her competitors.  Some of her competitors were so small they were nearly half her height and most of them she was at least a head taller than.  This definitely helps.  All the things she won are great, but the biggest victory was conquering the "it is too hard" "I can't" "I'm scared" aspects.  
Never have our children been on the very same team so we hadn't had to address the one winning and the other not quite achieving as much.  B won MANY things and is, frankly, used to excelling at a lot of things, mostly academic.  That said, he was racing 9-10 year old level and did not have the height advantage over anyone. Also, by that age, kids have raced more years and some swim for clubs year round.  His competition was much more fierce and really he rose to it.  He was routinely winning or nearly so backstroke by the end of the season and creeping up the ranks in free style.  In smaller meets, he always placed in butterfly, in part because fewer people were racing, but honestly, still a huge deal as it takes some bravery to race that stroke so young and sometimes alone or against only one other person.  He was doing hard things, never missed practice, and rising to the challenges of stiffer competition and succeeding.  He ended the season first or second on his own team in all the strokes he swam, which is BIG progress.  He swam the relays twice. The second time, he could see it was going to be close and put on a big closing burst on the anchor leg to bring his team the win. Go, B, Go!
Then came the All City Championships ---really 6 neighborhood teams in the huge Olympic pool with a stadium set up.  The pool, I'm told was frigid, but here they are warming up like ti was no big deal.

This is M about to start the Backstroke in an enormous pool with stands full of cheering fans.  She was fine.  A month before she would not race in a tiny low-key neighborhood pool race.  HUGE progress.  Getting in the water with managed fear and going for it would have been victory enough, but then she WON! She is the All City Backstroke Champion for six and under girls this year.  GO, M, GO!  She really wanted to make the relay team and I happened to be watching when she got the news that she would be racing.  She was SO excited and celebrating with her crew.  LOVE that.  She  anchored the OTP Mixed Six and under relay to first place winning by nearly half the pool length and got third in freestyle with the fastest time on her team.  (Race videos are below)
B, freezing on the pool deck.  He ended up 4th in back stroke by the tiniest margins, and got 6th in butterfly, and 8th in freestyle.  (race videos are below)
Here they are!  The OTP Swordfish were the 2016 All City Champions!  The trophy is in the middle and this is most of the crew at the end of the season party.
Here are M & B with their respective awards. That award B is holding is the "Swordfish Way" award.  This is given out by the coach to a few select team members for working hard, diligently coming to practice, doing their very best, having a good attitude, doing what they are asked to do by the coaches, and improving their swimming over the summer.  I almost cried as he was the first to receive this honor this year.  He has definitely done all of those things even when it was hard or he was uncertain. He attended every practice, did every drill, trusted his coaches and was all around awesome.  Better still he loved it and will be joining a swim team in the fall so look for more racing for this guy.  His goal is to improve enough during the year that Coach Laura moves him up to the more advanced/older kid swim practices next summer.  I'm excited that he loved it, is getting exercise, and is challenging himself to improve.
Here is M with her THREE medals! She was a little jealous of B's "Swordfish Way" award so maybe she will work on her attitude for next summer as she didn't pass the not saying "I can't" test this summer, but as she has been working on that both in swimming and in horse riding I think she will have it conquered very soon and is motivated to hit that "Swordfish Way" standard next year.  (B was actually jealous of her medals too so they each are motivating each other and we're trying very hard to congratulate and recognize each for their differing achievements).  I don't think she is as in love with swimming, and she hasn't asked to join the off-season team, but we'll see and at minimum she is VERY committed to rejoining the swordfish next summer for more team fun. She made a few good friends in the team that I hope cross over to more neighborhood adventures too!
Here they are playing with their friends at the end of the year party on Monday.  There was LOTS of pizza, friends, a few awards, and a great end to a great season.  

The All-City Championship racing videos are below.  Sadly, no video of M's championship race or B's butterfly, I think.  The videos are loud and give you a sense of the big crowd and noise there.  The championships were nearly 3 hours long and it was really hot and muggy up in the bleachers.  The kids ended up starving, even with their snacks, but in the end it was full of good fun and great memories. 
B 2nd lane, back stroke
M 1st lane (bottom) - freestyle
B - 3rd lane - freestyle
M - 4th lane (middle?) relay

Thanks again to all the grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins who joined us for some or all of the season's meets.  They are long and hot and there are a lot of down time between our kids races, but they love, love having you there to cheer them on.  We hope you join us for some OTP Swordfish meets next summer as Mr. E. joins the swim team for even more excitement!

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