Most of you know I was serious swimmer all the way through college, and then after college I started coaching swimming.
Actually, I started coaching in the summers at a country club while I was still in college.
And over the past 30 years I’ve coached in some capacity at some level. I’ve been an assistant coach for a high school team, the head coach of a middle school team, the head coach of country club teams, the head coach of a USA club team with about 200 swimmers, I’ve been a head age group coach, and I’ve coached Special Olympics.
So all of my kids have seen me on the pool deck in one form or another.
Four of the five kids have been swimming for a few years now.
Number 3 has been swimming for eight years. Number 4 has been swimming for seven years. Number 5 has beens swimming for five years. Number 7 has been swimming for four years.
Number 6 — my 10-year-old — took a shot at swimming when he was 7.
It was his first year, and his younger sister had been swimming for a couple years already, and she kicked his ass and he didn’t really love that.
Plus, he just wasn’t really emotionally ready for something that was so physically challenging.
He’s tried a bunch of other sports since then.
Baseball, basketball, soccer, wrestling…
None of them really stuck, although he really enjoyed the triathlon camp he did in the summer of 2019.
And that had some swimming in it.
Swimming is one of the sports that is a little more COVID-friendly, so the kids are all able to swim now with social distancing guidelines in place.
This year, Number 6 decided to give it another try.
And now, three years after that first attempt at swim team, he LOVES it!
He’s not swimming at an intense level. He only goes for an hour, three times a week, and it’s just enough for him.
Today he had a swim meet, and he did so well.
This is typical when a kid first starts swimming.
The improvement curve is really steep in the beginning. In the first year, most kids will get faster and faster and faster just because they are getting used to swimming and their stamina is improving and they get used to physical discomfort and realize they aren’t going to die when they get out of breath.
Today Number 6 swam and he killed it.
He dropped a ton of time, and he won one of his heats (which isn’t that big of a deal because the level of competition isn’t exactly all that high) but the smile on his face when he got out of the pool went from ear to ear.
And he said, “Mommy! I won my heat! But I don’t really care if I beat people because the only thing that really matters is if I do better than myself at the last meet.”
I was so happy for him on so many levels.
Number 6 has not found his “thing” when it comes to sports.
And maybe he’s just not a sports kid.
But he is athetic, and it was so nice to see him doing well and having lots of fun in the process.
Is he gonna swim past this year?
I mean, I hope he continues. I think he will as long as it remains fun and low pressure, which is exactly what it is right now.
Back when Number 3 was four years old, I freaked out because he didn’t want to do four-year-old basketball.
I was sure he would never be a success at anything athletic.
Because he wouldn’t play basketball.
When he was four.
Oh, how clueless and naive we are when we first become parents!
Anyway, I just wanted to share this story.
Because sometimes we get so wound up in our kids getting a head start on a sport that we forget what the ultimate goal is.
It’s to 1) have fun, 2) be a part of something bigger than yourself, and 3) become a stronger, wiser, and better human being in the process.
At least those are the goals for me and my kids.
And sometimes we forget that all things come in due time.
Not all kids are physically or, more importantly, emotionally ready to do things at the same time as other kids. Even their siblings.
Especially their siblings.
Number 6 needed to grow up a little bit.
Today I got to see him grow up a lot right there on the pool deck.
I’m just really, really proud of him. And I’m happy he’s found something that has helped build his confidence.
Who knows where his swimming journey will take him or how long it will last.
But for now, I’m really enjoying having the privilege of going through it with him.
And I’m grateful for a few more years of parenting experience that taught me how to back off and wait for him to let me know when he was ready to give it another shot.