Small Talk

Swim team

June 13th, 2012

When I was seven months pregnant, I went swimming with sharks. It was in the cages on the North Shore. I always remember how a woman on board said the baby inside would love the water, too.

Di and Joann

Joann and me

Five years later, and we've signed up Olivia up for a swim team. She has always taken to water, even as a baby. We often take her to play at the beach and at various pools, and a couple summers ago she took a class at the YMCA.

She is comfortable in the water, but not a proficient swimmer as compared to some of her preschool friends who have a pool in their yard at home. Her friend Amanda is a real fish.

Recently, I saw a flyer for a summer swim team that starts at age five, so I brought her to try outs. I wasn't sure if she would make the cut because she can be shy and uncooperative with new people, and she might also dislike the cold water.

She did better than we both expected! She swam for an hour, going all the way to the deep end with the coach's encouragement. She was so cute to watch, I told Claus I wanted to call out to her and wave as she passed us.

"Don't," laughed Claus. So I restrained myself.

Then on one lap, Olivia actually yelled out to me and waved. I was really happy and waved back excitedly like some sports fan. "Hi Hon! Hi! You're doing great! I see you! Good girl!" It was all I could do to not jump up and down.

In the following lap, she was getting tired and only was able to stick her hand up (not even her head) for a few seconds. But it was so cute!! I can't believe I'm excited about this. I am such a goofy mom!

I'm sure it'll get old, but the first time you see your kid do anything, you get excited, right?

When it was done, Coach invited her to join. He said she took direction well, which is a key quality at this age.

As we left, Olivia said a few times that she wants to return and do it again, which was very thrilling for us to hear. So yes, looks like we can sign her up for swim team.

I've heard other parents semi-complain or warn that I should choose her sport well, because I will be spending hours there during practice and games, watching and waiting. If it has to be swimming, I guess we mind less as we are children of the water ourselves.

I was a middling swimmer who more enjoyed the feeling of water than the competition. I spent hundreds of hours in the pool over my school years, but it wasn't a defining commitment in my life. Still, I'm a strong swimmer because of it, and a love of the water has led me to enjoy other water activities like getting my SCUBA certification, surfing, kayaking, and a general comfort with water sports.

Me and the Rocky Hill Sea Lions swim team

Me and the Rocky Hill Sea Lions swim team

Claus pursued this with a passion for half his life. He moved to a larger city while in high school to train with a better club, earned a scholarship to the University of Hawaii for swimming, and paid it forward after he graduated by coaching the UH swimmers for the better part of a decade. He still swims for exercise and fun, and he's an excellent windsurfer as a byproduct.

The point is, it's nice to nurture a skill that can pay dividends through your life. I thought about engineering her athletic and corporate career by handpicking scholarship or boardroom sports like golf and tennis, but that didn't feel sincere.

Ultimately, I think it's kind of a guess as to what one's child might stick with. I am going to consider it lucky if we match her with a sport that she will play for years. Actually, for a five year old, I'm going to consider it lucky if she will consistently do this all season long!

What's your take on signing up kids for sports? Any stories on what to expect as a swim team mom? Or on other activities that might come down the pike?

6 Responses to “Swim team”

  1. Ken Conklin:

    Summer olympics will soon be filling our TV screens. You can probably get a schedule for which sports will be broadcast at what days and times. Set your TV recording device to capture perhaps 15-30 minutes for each of the sports you think Olivia might possibly be interested in, so she can watch the playbacks at her own (and your own) convenience. Then watch her reaction to see which ones interest her the most, and ask her which ones she likes and why. This would be a great way for her to get exposure to many sports when it would be too time-consuming for you to actually take her to such events, and it would also allow her to focus on the sports themselves rather than whether Olivia is sick, or cranky, or didn't get enough sleep, etc. on the day you take her somewhere. Exclude the awards ceremony at the end of the competition, so her reaction will be to the sport and not to the medal. Also be open to the possibility that it is you who wants her to like certain sports but she really does not like them herself -- that was my own situation as a child. I got pushed into things my parents thought I should like, but I ended up disliking those things and resenting being pushed. Some of those things I might actually have liked on my own, but maybe I felt I needed to make a display of disliking them as part of my rebellion against getting pushed into them.

  2. Paco:

    If you don't mind me asking what swim team is that? I have a daughter a few years older than Olivia and she really enjoys her swimming class. She is starting to reach the point where she won't need to take lessons anymore, but I would like her to continue to swim in a structured environment. I'm not really sure she's too interested in the competitive aspects, but who knows? Thanks!

  3. Diane Ako:

    Ken Conklin, That's a great suggestion. I'll do that! THank you!

  4. wafan:

    Encourage different activies/sports. She will eventually find her favorites.

  5. Rosette:

    yes I wait for a kid to drive himself to all "SPORTS"..... the most I can tolerate is watching a kid swim in bath tub for five minutes then I YELL GET OUT! I pick easy sport...SITTING WATCHING T.V. not into sport show.

  6. Rosette:

    the reason why I don't like sports I BE STUCK IN I told my boys they can join "sports" when they can drive themselves to the hospital....HOPEFULLY by then the girl friend will put up with them NOT ME..funny..with swimming EAR INFECTION GALORE! I am too lazy to watch a kid play....!

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