Summer swim team for 2015 has come to an end!
This season flew by quicker than most ... but the entire month of June seems to have flown off my calendar. Is it just me or do the days fly by?
My babies have been on the swim team for the last 14 years! Hands down this activity has been one of the most positive and influential things they have done each year. I was not a swim team kid and had absolutely no experience with it before a neighbor suggested I put my oldest in as a small but feisty 4 and 1/2 year old. I remember thinking he would drown his first few practices when he was unable to swim 1/3 of the length of the pool. I would watch him cling to the lane rope and quietly pray. Maybe I wasn't so quiet. I was sure I was signing him up for certain death. That sweet and gentle neighbor looked over at me and patted my arm and told me simply ... "He's fine. Stop worrying."
And not only was he fine but the next year he got faster and with an incredible stroke and kept swimming each year until he was 11. At that point most kids either become year round swimmers (and get really good) or sadly quit like mine did for another activity. At that point Robotics had captured his heart and he hung up his goggles.
The swim team has always been our summer family. The coaches would change but the parents and the amazing kids would be there each May to greet us with the same enthusiasm and excitement! When we moved into this house in 2002 the first thing I did was sign up for swim team. We knew not a sole and immediately we were greeted by people who showed up at our home with warm brownies and welcomed us into our new neighborhood!
The two youngest signed up to join the swim team the same summer when Little Bit was finally 5. She was so upset that the rules had changed and 4 was no longer a starting age. I remember her begging me and saying .. "but I'm strong and I won't sink. I pinky promise." Little did I know at the time that she would not only not sink ... she would soar!
As I have mentioned many times, our middle child has special needs. I will one day sit down and write our story, but in a nut shell he has a genetic deviance that has lead to many learning and developmental issues over his years. One of his major hurdles was sensory issues which meant tons of therapy and trying new strategies to make the world work for him. Swimming has always calmed his brain and although he is the slowest swimmer by far in his age group, he loves it. And his team LOVES him. He has been embraced by an incredible group of coaches that put the effort into making him feel as if he won the gold medal every single time he touches the wall.
State qualifying practice 2013
And I am not exaggerating one single bit. At Thursday night's meet he was swimming in one race and as he was once again the last swimmer by quite some time to touch the wall a group of ADULTS next to baby girl and I started making fun of him. Yes, they were adults and they were tasteless enough to be making fun of a child. My brave, strong daughter promptly let them know they were speaking about her brother, and making fun of others was "not cool". They just looked at her and walked off. I was truly speechless and broken at the same time and yet the entire time my boy was oblivious because he was swimming towards the group of coaches that were clapping and yelling for only him!
Anyone who has a child who struggles in any way knows you will spend thousands to provide them with the help and confidence they need to succeed. This team has provided him with therapy and confidence in droves! He lives to swim for them each summer and the relationship he has with the head coach is something I can barely put into words. Will believes in our boy, loves him and encourages him to push himself. He has told him he is the heart of the team and WPM thinks Will truly is the best human being alive.
I have to agree wholeheartedly.
2013 ... and notice my littles off in the left corner!
Image courtesy of a team mom and incredible photographer!
And then there is the youngest ... our fish!
Swim team has sparked an incredible talent in her that she would have never developed otherwise. She was born to swim! She not only took to falling in love with swimming, she is really good at it. Every single year she blows us away. She beats her own times and advances on to the state qualifying meet. Two years ago she advanced to the state meet and placed in each event she raced. Her relay team earned medals. She holds six records at the our home pool. The girl can swim!
2013 ... our girl in the water after a race
My favorite thing about our team is how much each child loves the other. Friends cheering on friends. Teammates cheering for others and not leaving the pool deck until they all finish their races! It has been an incredible experience year after year. When my grandmother died two years ago I was shopping at Sam's for that night's meet. I literally had a car full of food I needed to unload and set up for that night's meet. Word passed quickly and not only did I do almost nothing that evening but those woman loved on me and prayed for me in the coming weeks. The love I felt truly carried me through those first few days when I still clearly in shock.
I am always sad to see the end of a summer leaque and the daily meet ups over coffee for myself and the other moms. It is an incredible experience I encourage you to try if your babies are little. And if you or your children swim on a team, you know what I mean.
It was an amazing year. Undefeated and moving up to Silver! I am incredibly proud of our coaches and swimmers! You earned every second of last night's party!!
Until next year Seahorses!
Or ... for some of us, until tomorrow when state qualifying practice starts!
I will be the one with the large coffee and the walking cast!