Saturday evening we celebrated a fun swim team season with a team party at the Mesquite Groves Aquatic Center (really great public pool, but only if you live out that way, it was quite a haul for us!). My kids had a great time
running walking around, going down the slides, floating in the lazy river and swirling around the whirlpool. I enjoyed time alone on the pool deck (it seems alone time is in short supply during the summer months!).
I reflected on the season and feel so grateful that we finally found a sport that was a good fit for the boy. When he was younger we did a season of soccer. He got bored of running back and forth across the field for the ball, kept running out of a game to the sidelines to ask us what time it was (???!!!) and just generally did not enjoy it. A year or two later we signed him up for little league…most of the boys had been playing for a few years already so there was a learning curve. He didn’t always do well, which lead to a stubborn tendency to quit trying (major problem in my book!). While we wanted to give him opportunities to get past this problem, we also felt it wasn’t fair for the whole team to suffer while our son figured things out. We went a few years without sports until my husband started rallying around swimming, and we signed him up.
His first week or so of practice I wondered if he would “get it”. His first meet was terrible. He came in dead last on all events. He was crushed, which meant he acted out in anger. He told us he was done with swimming and that it was stupid. We let him calm down and told him he was not quitting and we talked about practice and working hard to improve. We watched youtube clips of Michael Phelps, I asked my son if he thought he was as good a swimmer as Michael (he said No). We talked about how if he quit he would never get any better, but that if he kept trying by the time he was 19 or 20 he could be a much faster stronger swimmer.
Miracle of all miracles, I think he listened to us. At his next meet we told him it didn’t matter how he placed (first second or dead last), that his only goal should be to beat his own last times. As long as he was improving and doing his best we were proud of him. Oh, the tender mercies, he placed second, second, fourth and fifth in the next meet, beating all of his previous times! I know earning second place really boosted his self esteem, and I was so glad for that. He was all over the place the rest of the season, but he took the losses so much better by focusing on his times and how much he was improving.
Hooray for swim team and hooray for my son learning the value of working hard at something and seeing the results! You can bet we’ll be swimming again next summer (my daughter wants to be on the team too!).