I can’t swim. Not really. I always say I can swim well enough that I won’t drown…right away. So Harper has been in swimming lessons of various sorts since about the time she could walk. Last summer she would have been ready for swim team but being very pregnant with a husband who works out of town, I refused to put her in. I have friends who have kids in swim team and all I had ever heard about it were horror stories. 7 am practices every day, and then all day every Saturday out in the sun trying not to shrivel up and die? Nope, not appealing to me at all. Harper knew nothing of this, but Dustin really really wanted her to do it. When I refused last year, I said I would let her do it this year. When April rolled around, I regretted that agreement. But by the first 2 meets, this whole swim team thing started to grow on me. I actually had to admit that this is fun.
I do kind of laugh at us though. Having attended an indoor swimming school once a week for the last couple years, she’s done well and quickly advanced through their program. We were so proud of our little 5-year-old in a class of 8 to 10-year-olds! She looked so tiny walking in to the pool with them! They could all just stop and stand up in the pool whenever they needed, but she had to keep going because she couldn’t touch. So needless to say, she was a good swimmer. For a 5-year-old. Really good in our eyes. We honestly thought she was gonna show up and just blow them out of the water. We fully anticipated the coach to move her up to the next age group just to give her some competition.
While I will never be ashamed of being proud of my kids, I am a little embarrassed about how far it actually went. Harper is a great swimmer. She really is. But we acted like she was headed to the Olympics, not the neighborhood swim team. And she is not the fastest swimmer. Not even the second fastest. In freestyle and backstroke she generally comes in #3 on their team, and there have been plenty of girls from the other teams that are ahead of her in there too. In breaststroke and butterfly she has yet to place at all because she gets disqualified for some illegal move or another. Wump, wump.
At the beginning of the season, our team runs their time trials as if it were a regular meet. The tents, the DJ, the concession stand, the whole 9 yards. Or 25 meters as the case may be. Seeing as this was our first swim “meet” the 3 of us had no idea what to really expect. Being a 6 and under girl, Harper’s group was one of the first to warm up. I somehow missed the actual warm up, but I was there almost immediately after she got out of the water. She came running up to me fighting back tears. Given our previous experiences with cold water I assumed that was why she was upset, but once I wrapped her up tight and pulled her into my lap she blurted out “I didn’t get a ribbon!!” My poor baby! We did our best not to pass on our conceit to her, but we did apparently set her expectations pretty high.
Once we explained that she wouldn’t always get a ribbon she was totally fine. And now that she has been beaten a bunch of times she knows she is pretty fast, but she also knows that there are other girls that are faster, and she is generally okay with that. For a while, our problem was getting her to understand how to be proud of herself without making her friends feel bad if they didn’t do as well. Then it was getting her to accept that she may not be the fastest, but that she still needed to try dagnabit! This is still a race, not a leisurely swim! After a while, she was way more interested in just playing with her friends in the team tent than you know, swimming.
Now, as we are nearing the end of swim season I have been fully converted into a swim mom. I still can’t swim very well myself and I have a lot to learn about swimming in general as well as all the rules and regulations. But we are there every meet, every heat, camera in hand, ready to cheer on our baby girl. And I have become an expert swim cap putter on-er. I regret not getting myself a team shirt, but I assure you this will be remedied next year. I bear the early mornings and the heat with a ponytail and a smile. I’m still glad we didn’t try this out last year for my own sake, but all in all, I think I have enjoyed this whole swim team thing just as much as Harper. It’s kinda fun hanging out in the team tent with my new friends too.