I think we’ve officially reached the point where I can say that this is a weird ass summer. At least weather-wise and so far. We are in week three of consistent storms, cloudy skies, and crazy temperature swings. First, we had a cool week. Then a very warm week where we had thick, nasty, Kansas City/St. Louis/Cincinnati humidity. And now it’s back to being relatively cool and overcast. Last week was one huge thunderstorm after another. Friday things got so bad that everyone’s iPhones screamed at them that we were in a flash flood warning. Roads were under water, rivers out of their banks, and other nonsense.

All that has combined to keep the girls inside a lot. It’s either been too wet, too hot and sticky, or just dreary and unappealing.

But here’s the thing: as annoyed as I have been with the weather, I’m hoping for one more night of storms tonight. We have a swim meet scheduled for the evening. We found out last night the team we’re swimming against has nearly 150 swimmers. Last Thursday we ripped through our meet in exactly three hours, which is awesome. But that was with maybe 120 combined swimmers. And since this is one of my required volunteer nights [1], I’ll be stuck on the deck from 5:00 until the last relay is complete. If it storms and they decide not only to call off the meet, but also cancel it since the holiday weekend means many folks will be busy or traveling over the weekend, I will not be disappointed at all.

Is that wrong?

Getting back to last week’s meet, it was a big night for M.. She’s gotten so much better this year. Her form is really good on several strokes. She actually looks competent when you watch her from the deck! But she is still rather slow and does not have the best stamina in the pool. When she hits the ¾ mark of a lap, you can almost see the energy draining from her body.

I love her enthusiasm and how she enjoys being part of the team. But I was both pleased and saddened a little bit when she stated her goal was not to finish last in her heats anymore. I was proud of the self-awareness that showed, and the way she set attainable goals. It hurt, though, to hear her acknowledging that she knew she wasn’t very fast. I mean, it’s kind of obvious, and she’s a smart, almost 11-year-old. I would have preferred she still ask me if she won her heats when she finished well after the other three swimmers.

I was timing last week,[2] and she was always two lanes over from me. When she swam, I kept one eye on her and one on my lane. Her starts tend to be slow, putting her in a hole from the beginning, so when she emerged from her jump well behind her three competitors in the butterfly, I shook my head and concentrated on my lane. When the swimmers reached the halfway point, I noticed M. had gained a ton of ground. It was basically a four-way tie. I started paying closer attention to her lane. The girls all surged and faded. With five yards to go, M. seemed to be in the lead, but my angle was bad and it was hard to tell. Worst, the girl in my lane was the closest to her so I had to pay close attention to my watch. I kept checking each lane, willing the other girls to take an extra breath or for M. to not take that last breath that would slow her down. I leaned way out, craned my neck to the left, and saw M. touch at least a second before the next girl. Not only did she win her heat, she did so in the toughest stroke!

When she hopped out of the pool I yelled at her, “M., great swim!” She said thanks and started to walk away. I called her back. “M., you won!” Her jaw dropped, her eyes went wide, and she said, “I won? Really?”

“Yes, that was awesome!”

She smiled proudly and darted away.

The night got better when her freestyle relay won their heat as well. At Friday morning’s practice, when ribbons get handed out, she came back with her first two blue ribbons.

The other two girls are doing about what you would expect. L. usually swims in heat 2, and can finish anywhere from first to fourth, depending on who she swims against and how many times she bumps into the lane lines.

C. is a bundle of unfocused energy. We realized about a week ago that she doesn’t breath when she swims freestyle until she’s halfway through a pool-length. And then she spends the last half of that length gasping for air, breathing on both sides as she flings her arms forward. Sometimes she kicks ass. Sometimes she finishes after the other three girls are out of the pool because her head has been out of the water and slowing her down for 10 yards.

If you could take M.’s form and combine it with C.’s energy, you’d have a pretty good swimmer. In other words, that’s what L. is going to be in another two years. She already is the only one who can do perfect entry dives to begin a race. She revels in competition and being physical. Like soccer, I think she’s going to lap her sisters before too long.

Our swim team requires that parents volunteer in at least three meets to time keep, manage the course, write on ribbons, etc. Had I known how big this meet was, I really would have picked a different meet for one of my shifts.  ↩

Man does it annoy me that we time every heat. First off, heats are hand-timed, so they’re inconsistent to begin with. Then I’ve noticed a lot of starters aren’t terribly accurate with their stopwatches. Finally, most teams do not post the finish times for all competitors. Instead of having two volunteers in each lane to time and record each swimmer, all they need are a parent from each team that stand together and call the finish order. That’s 8–16 fewer volunteers (depending on the pool and shifts) needed.  ↩