When looking back at childhood, I think that every memory tends to take-on a particular slant. Sometimes positive, sometimes negative, these memories are forever painted in dramatically vivid colors that tend to outshine the more recent additions to your biographical record.
Childhood sports and activities distinctly stand-out in my mind as completely positive, fun, and exciting experiences. Some of my most fun times were on summer swim team; perhaps that is why it was so important to get our kids into the pool as soon as possible.
This is Elora's second year being on the Madison Dolphins summer swim team (incidentally, this is the exact same team that I swam on in high school, with the same head coach that coached me, believe it or not!). This is the first year that she qualified for the state swim meet which was held this past weekend. We were very lucky that this statewide competition was hosted by our home team this year; last year it was a 6 hour drive away in Dothan!
It has been a fun summer watching Elora improve and compete, but I have also learned that being a swim parent is not the completely positive, fun, and exciting experience from childhood; it is much harder, maybe even borderline grueling!
The state meet takes place over two days. An ample amount of time to provide many stressful experiences!
On Friday Corby couldn't come because, duh, it was a work day, so I had bad odds to begin with. The first dramatic development reared its head in the afternoon. Our medley relay was grouped together outside the bullpen, unfortunately, too close to a fire-ant hill; their butterfly swimmer was stung nearly 20 times. Elora was only stung twice, but made-up for it with an extreme amount of complaining. Despite her itchy wounds, she was still able to swim her lap and their relay finished second overall.
Afterward, the process of trying to get out was a nightmare. It would be easy if it weren't for all the stuff (you have to bring the stuff...chairs, cooler, blankets, towels, toys, games plus I had a stroller with baby included).
So, while I struggled with the folding chairs in a sea of mini-camps and swim squatters, Jacob decided to wander away. When I turned around to look for him, I could see that he was crying amidst a crowd of friendly fellow parents who were trying to help him. I finally reached him and I asked why he had walked away. He told me he had lost his sock. I looked down and noticed that he had taken off his shoes and was carrying one sock, after pointing out that the other was still on his foot, he brightened and came along. He walked all the way to the car wearing only that one sock.
Calm relief eased its way into me as we crossed the threshold of the parking area, only to be shattered when Elora declared that she had left her flip-flops behind and we would have to go look for them. Glancing back at the hordes of tents, concession stands, parents and swimmers, I informed her that nothing could drag me back in there, especially not a $4 pair of very worn and dirty blue flip-flops, that no one would ever take home with them!
Saturday was easier. Corby there to help, and after finding those lost flip-flops the day seemed to be rolling along nicely. If only it weren't 98 degrees outside with 85% humidity!
By the end of the meet, as the free relay neared, dark storm clouds began to roll-in. I crossed my fingers and said many a prayer to forestall disastrous thunder and lightening, in which case the meet would be paused for a half-hour. Much to our relief, the 8 and under relays were completed right before someone heard thunder and we were able to scramble for the car with smiles on our faces despite the fact that we were being drenched in a summer downpour.
Oh, how I felt sorry for the parents that we hurriedly left behind! I try to ignore the little voice in my head telling me that as the kids grow and move up in age groups, that will surely someday be me waiting. Whatever happened to the good ol' days when I got to be the swimmer and the whole world revolved around me? Swim team certainly looks different from this side of the pool deck.
Link to results.
Elora after warm-ups.
Elora watching from the coach's table.
Elora's 25yd butterfly (she is in the farthest lane on the left, she finished 9th overall)
Girls 8 and under medley relay, Elora swam the final lap of free, they were in lane 6 and finished second. You can't really see anything, but you can get a feeling for the hysteria.
(Actually I found out later that they finished third because another team had a soft touch. Also, looking at this video objectively, most of the people watching look pretty sedate, not at all hysteric. I guess my feeling of roaring chaos came from a combination of being in such a big crowd and feeling very stressed.)