This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Big Leagues

Last Saturday and Sunday was our first swim meet with our year round swimming club. We decided that this year was the time to get MiMi involved in year round swimming. This involves up to three times a week swim practice and, of course, swim meets throughout the year.

The swim meet was at NC State's Carmichael Gymnasium, which has a natatorium - a really nice facility.  Probably very intimidating for a nine year old, who is used to a smaller pool, with snow cones being served and the aroma of burnt burgers in the air.

No, this was the big leagues baby. In the background in this picture is an electronic timer board that shows exact times, including splits, of each lane. The times are done by touch for each lane.

MiMi had six events: three on Saturday and three on Sunday.  Arrival times for both days was 7 AM, where they would have their warm-ups. This is not a big problem for MiMi, who is, so far, a decent morning person. This is NO PROBLEM for Tim, who gets up with the roosters (like 3:30 AM). But for the rest of us, this is not ideal. But for MiMi, I'd get up at any time and apparently, CJ was up for it on Sunday, which warmed my cold heart.

Saturday's events for MiMi were: 100 yard breaststroke, 50 yard freestyle, and an individual IM. Wow. In the summer league, all she has to accomplish is 25 yards.  So she was freaking out about going 50 even though the Wednesday before, there was a swim-a-thon and she had swam 133 lengths of a 25 yard pool.  Her coach told them all: 100 yards should feel like nothing after all of that, right?

After her 100 breaststroke, she told me that she felt like quitting (during the swim) because her legs felt like spaghetti. I told her that she did it and that's what counts...and that, that's what it _does_ feel like when you're competing: you work hard to run, swim, bike - whatever it is one is doing, and it usually feels like you can't make it but you pull through. And *that's* what is amazing: the sense of accomplishment to endure when you think you can't. Not winning.

She apparently DQ'd her IM. I don't know how or where and apparently, initially, her coach didn't think she DQ'd either as he said, after her event, she swam it cleanly.

She had _just_ learned her flip turns the week before and kept saying "I'm not doing a flip turn". OK.

But she tried during her freestyle and missed the wall so she had to get her bearings to get some oomph to get her last 50 going. Overall, I thought she looked great.

Day two was just as stressful for her. She had 50 yd back, 100 yd free and then a 50 yd breast. She DQ'd one of these - I think her back, as she attempted a flip turn and didn't get close enough to the wall. I saw the arm go up from the ref (or whatever they're called) and her coach turned to us and said 'she was perfect for every one of them during warm-ups'.

But for these two days, she cried and cried and cried. She was even more hysterical on day two than she was on day one. It was so stressful for everyone and I hated for her coaches to see her so upset. Of course, I hated her being so anxious that she put herself in a frenzy and, IMO, put herself in an anxious state while swimming.

I tried. I spoke to her telling her how much of a rock star she was. How she could swim this - she knows how to do the strokes. Treat this as practice. Just do the swim. Don't worry about how fast you are. Don't think about anything else, just swim.  You rock. You're a warrior.  Don't worry about your flip turns. Do what you're comfortable with.  Don't worry about DQs.

Tim did his own encouragement. The coaches did too. But it just wasn't enough to curtail her fears. And I get that. I really do. I know it's extreme butterflies and she just has to get used to this. I think it's hard for a nine year old to take this all in but it's something she can become accustomed to.

She is an excellent swimmer and has great form. She seems to enjoy it and she's attentive. I see her listening intently to her coaches where everyone else is horsing around. But, as I've already said to her, she has little choice. Our girls have to have a sport. Some parents 'force' their kids to do art, music, bible study, math, science, girl scouts. Well, this is what we 'force' our kids to do. You can think it's cruel -- although, apparently, it's OK for boys to be 'strongly encouraged to do football, basketball or soccer -- but whatever. In the case of MiMi, she likes it and like the other things I've just mentioned, kids will be lazy about it. They don't want to practice, they don't want to do any of that stuff (the average kid) because they'd rather play games, read or lie around and do nothing.

But how many of you think about how you wish your parents forced you to finish out your piano lessons, or do more sports, or whatever? Well, I wish my parents forced/encouraged me to be more sporty. I'm a late in life sports girl...although, I *did* play softball as a kid. But all on my own. I signed up because I wanted to. I went to all my practices on my own (lived in the Philippines at the time so I had to walk to the end of my subdivision, hail a jeepney to the Air Force Base ALONE, take a bus to practice and then, if my dad remembered, he would pick me up after work and take me home)...ditto for my games. I wasn't that good but man, I'm proud of myself for that and it shows, IMO, a lot of my personality THEN that I have now.

But how little time people have to play sports...especially girls. Not that I expect them to be professional players but how many professional women's sports are there?'s the time to play...and hopefully, enjoy it. But it's also a great way to learn self-confidence - another big thing for girls. And a great thing to keep in shape. And as a parent, I know it's the right choice and, as I told MiMi, when she becomes an adult, she can decide for herself if she wants to continue. But for now, she will do this and if that means we sit away from the coaches while she cries her anxiety out, then so be it.  But I'll be there rooting her on and supporting her all the way.

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