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.
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
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?