Next Stop, Webster, New York

As you all know, I spent this past weekend at a pretty big swim meet with Number 3 and Number 4.

And at this meet, it was Number 4’s goal to swim well enough to qualify for an even bigger meet where the best of the best on the East Coast swim called Zones.

She had set this goal for herself exactly a year ago when Number 3 qualified for the meet.

Knowing it was a goal of hers, I took her to Webster, NY with me last year to watch Number 3 swim.

Number 4 was mesmerized.

It’s a pretty cool experience. And as far as age group swimmers are concerned, it’s a big deal.

They have a big podium at the meet, and the top six or eight finishers in each event are given awards, just like at the Olympics.

In fact, last year they had a former Olympian placing the medals around the necks of the winners.

And as soon as Number 4 saw that, she said, Next year I’m coming here. And next year I’m going to be on that podium.

She didn’t just want to make it to Zones. She wanted to make it to the Zones podium.

So going into this past weekend, I have to be honest.

I have never been so nervous about anything since becoming a mother, and quite possibly, in my entire life.

And I’m not exaggerating.

The first day of the meet was last Thursday, and on Wednesday I hardly slept at all.

As you also know, I’m Number 4’s coach. I knew she had big goals for herself.  And if she didn’t meet them, well, I’d feel responsible for that.

And if she was gonna get on that Zones podium, I had to first get her to Zones.

She had six events to swim over the course of four days.

Her best shot to make it to  Zones was on the third day of swimming.

I really didn’t want to  wait until that third day. I couldn’t handle three nights of no sleep.

I tried not to let on that I was totally freaking out.

But I was.

Her first event was the 500 Freestyle on Thursday. That’s 20 lengths of the pool. It’s not her strongest event, so I wasn’t expecting her to qualify in that. I just wanted her to swim well so it set the tone for the rest of the meet and so she was happy.

She swam a great race, she dropped nine seconds, and she finished fourth.

The top three in each event go to Zones, so she just missed it.

I didn’t expect her to swim as fast as she did, so I was very happy.

But I was also still pooping in my pants.

On Friday she had two events. The 200 Freestyle (8 lengths) and the 100 Individual Medley (or IM as it’s called — one length of each stroke). I wasn’t expecting much from the 200 Free since she’s not really a freestyler, but I thought she had a decent shot in the 100 IM.

She swam the 200 Free first. She did a best time.

And she finished in 3rd place.

She made Zones in an event I never even thought she’d make it in.


Being the coach, I clenched my jaw as tight as I could and I pushed back the lump in my throat. I had a whole bunch of swimmers there, and I didn’t want to lose it in front of them (or any of the other coaches).

Being the mom, as soon as there was a break, I went into the bathroom and I cried like a baby in the bathroom stall.

I was proud and excited and happy and shocked and emotionally drained already and I still had two more days to go.

But now the pressure was off. Now we could really just have fun and enjoy all the hard work she had put in.

She ended up swimming really well in the 100 IM and finishing 4th. But due to someone in front of her not going to Zones, Number 4 was bumped up a spot, and she made it into that event, too.

So she had two events under her belt at the end of Friday.

Day 3, Saturday, was her big day. The 100 Backstroke. Her strongest event. The event I originally thought she’d qualify in.

The nerves were back. Because Number 4 was really hoping to win the whole thing, and of course, so was I.

She had a terrible start, and she came up about half a body length behind the girl next to her.

By the time she got to the third turn, she was about a head behind her.

On the last lap, she was reeling her in.

They were neck and neck.

You know that crazy mom on the sidelines of the baseball game or the soccer game or in the stands at the basketball game or the football game or the swim meet?

The one that is totally out of control and screaming like a lunatic and everyone is staring at her saying, Holy shit, Woman, calm the f*ck down?

Yeah. That was me on the pool deck when Number 4 was swimming.

I was out of my mind.

And I may have peed in my pants a little bit.

Number 4 and the girl next to her appeared to touch the wall at the same time, and all the coaches immediately turned to look at the scoreboard.

There were 2 times on the board.

1:07.59 and 1:07.67

Number 4 finished second by .08 of a second.

She came so close to winning.

But she swam her ass off, and never in a million years did I think she’d swim that fast.

Knowing she was my swimmer (but not my kid), a coach next to me from another team looked at me and said, “That was a hell of a race.”

“That was my daughter,” I told him.

I might have cried right there, and he may have thought I was a psycho.

But I don’t care.

Number 4 was amazing.

So she ended up qualifying for Zones in three events.

She leaves next Wednesday.

And part one of the goal she set for herself a year ago has been accomplished. Make it to Zones.

Will she make it up onto the podium once she’s there?

We’ll just have to wait and see.

But if I was the betting kind — if someone forced my hand — I’d go all in that she’s definitely gonna do it.


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11 replies
  1. Renee Kelly
    Renee Kelly says:

    Wow! That is so exciting! I was crying reading this! Number 4 has a great coach and Mom. Will you get to go too?

  2. Jenny B
    Jenny B says:

    So amazing!! You are a great mom and great coach, you had a wonderful balance of being realistic and knowing that a ten year old swim meet isn’t the end of the world, but also encouraging your children and being so proud of them. So many people learn by your example.

  3. Carolyn
    Carolyn says:

    Congrats! I still remember every second of the race I swam that got me my 1st place and qualified me for zones! It is one of the few races that I remember every second. Happy for you all! Now that I am a parent of athletes i realize that it is even harder on this side of things.


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