Sunday morning was mercifully easier than Saturday. After Saturday’s meet marathon, I felt we deserved the double sleep bonus of the time change and the later warmup time. Mr. Andi stayed home with Nathan so it was just The Girl and Me on the drive over. I was determined that Day Two was going to be more fun (Doggone it!), so I put her hair up in two ponytails (she asked if she could skip the swim cap) and let her ride in the front seat of the car. We sang tunes from “Glee” and she read to me from the Toyota owner’s manual (don’t ask).
After the warmup, Sarah Kate had just enough time to eat a granola bar and an Airhead (one of the few remaining pieces of her Halloween candy that I haven’t eaten) before her coach appeared, rounding up all of the 100 yard medley relay participants. He dubbed her “Slowpoke-ahontas”, which I found hilarious because she does tend to meander at times (lest anyone think her coach was mocking her lack of speed in the water). I had no idea if Sarah Kate had the first clue what she was supposed to do in a relay. The plan was to have her swim the backstroke instead of the crawl during her freestyle leg (completely legal but highly unusual), but because it was a relay she would have to jump in instead of starting in the water.
I don’t know what it is about swimming, but I always feel like I become a helicopter mom at these meets. I guess the combination of water, concrete, and Sarah Kate’s inherent clumsiness feels like the ideal trifecta to win us a trip to the emergency room. With just a tiny bit of trepidation, I left my daughter in the capable embrace of the expert cat-herding coaches and made my way to the far side of the pool with my Flip video camera. It might not be pretty, I reasoned, but I was going to film her first relay, just as I had filmed her first meet way back in June. I’ll spare you all the details and let you watch it (it’ll be like you’re standing right next to me – especially once I start yelling). They are in Lane 4, which is the third swimmer from the left. Skip ahead to around 1:10 if you just want to watch her leg.
We booked out of the meet as soon as the relay was over so that Sarah Kate could make it to CCD class. Before we left, however, she got encouragement, constructive criticism, and hugs from her coaches. They really do love having her swim with the team, even though she isn’t fast, and she learns not only valuable water skills, but life skills, as well. This weekend, I heard her coach in one breath giving her specific, detailed instructions about swimming her best, and in the next breath let her off the pressure hook just a little by telling her that her job is “to look cute.” She gets to be just like every other kid and special at the same time. Some people would probably say that’s setting the bar too low, but I don’t agree. The ultimate goal here is not for her to swim fast, but to just keep swimming.
Later that afternoon, I went out for my long run – 16 miles – and it was one of the toughest I’ve had in a long time. As I struggled, I thought of my little swimmer and kept on running. Like my little swimmer, I pushed through (it wasn’t pretty) and I finished strong.