The title says it all…I love summer swim team! I know that is crazy. It’s HOT, it’s a lot of shuffling (3 kids) to practice, it’s SO HOT, meets can be long and REALLY HOT, and some days it’s just SO VERY HOT. So yes, it may sound crazy that I really look forward to summer swim, and I can’t say I love sweating at meets or spending hours at practice, but it doesn’t matter because swim brings out the best in my kids and for that I will suffer through anything!
When I lived in Greensboro and Mallory was an infant I remember getting kicked out of our neighborhood pool for swim meets and being annoyed, and even as a young mom I already knew swim meets could last all night…until 11pm or worse according to the Urban Legends! And practice was everyday and early in the morning…sometimes twice a day. I decided that would never be for us. Those people were crazy. Weeelllll, like about everything else I said “never” to this would also not hold. Mallory learned to swim pretty young just by going to the pool a lot, and when she was four I put her in swim lessons at the YMCA and she happened to be in a very small class where the instructor really pushed them. By the time she was six I was signing her up for summer swim. NOT without hesitations. I still believed all the rumors about meets going all night and dying of heat exhaustion, but Mallory and her little friend Grace were good swimmers and Grace’s mom Carrie and I decided to give it a go. OH, I also happened to have a three year old and was pregnant. I clearly remember telling the swim mom when we signed up that we would probably be doing this very casually. Our team offered six practices a week and six meets. No way would we would get caught up in all that at 6 years old. Weeelllll, are you seeing a theme here? We did! Mallory and her friend Grace loved it and so did us adults. I saw from early on all the amazing benefits swim and especially swim team has on kids, adults and communities, and now about six years in here is what I love the most!
Swim Team Includes ALL Ages…
I can’t think of any other sport where you have a 5 year old and an 18 year old on the same team. That is one of the coolest things about swim for me. Right now I have kids aged 4-11 who are all on our summer team. When my kids were little (and one still is) the older kids were always so sweet and supportive! Our current team has junior coaches who start at age 13 and assist the coaches with the younger kids. These teens are amazing and sometimes have the most interaction with the kids. They line them up, catch them in the water, reassure them when they are scared and handle tears like pros (I wonder if they knew that was part of the job description). They do all this at every practice and meets, but the really neat part is seeing them outside of practice and them making kids days when they say HI and remember their names or play with them in the pool. On the flip side being the mom of a preteen I see how good that responsibility and leadership is for them. Mallory isn’t a junior coach yet, but a few times she has helped with the little ones and I can always see the confidence this instills in her. I also love how each age group cheers and supports the others! We had a friend who is 7 swim up in a free relay with the 11/12 girls last week. She rocked it and totally held her own. She was excited to swim with the big girls, and the big girls cheered her like I’ve never seen. And they won the relay! What an awesome moment for all of them.
Swim builds Friendships and Community…
We had lived in our current neighborhood a year when several of us banded together and started a swim team. It was not immediately received well and I totally get it. If you don’t participate in swim team I can see how it could be a burden…remember my annoyance at trying to swim with my baby only to have to leave for a swim meet. Luckily it’s a fairly short season and I still truly believe the benefits for the community far outweigh the annoyances. My kids have met friends whose paths would never have crossed if it weren’t for swim team. One of my neighbors who has lived in the neighborhood for several years signed her kids up for swim team for the first time this year. After the first meet she remarked that she signed up for her kids to meet new friends, but that she was meeting new friends too. This is what it’s all about! Swim team is 100% volunteer run and it takes a village. Our head coach is a master’s swimmer and dad in the neighborhood. We have committees for everything from concessions to social. Our kids get to see us coming together with our neighbors and working (sweating) our tails off. I can’t think of much else that is exclusive to our neighborhoods that can bring so many people together.
Are the Legends True???…
Haha! Not exactly. I have personally not been to a summer meet that went past 10pm…maybe 10:30. That may seem late to most, but the good thing about summer swim is it what you want to put in and make of it. We are an all in family in most things we do, but if just swimming a few events and skipping relays at the end of the meet is best for you that is OK! We have been on three different summer teams and the one thing they have all had in common is FUN and being part of a team first. I actually looked at it as six weeks of instruction and practice when we first started. Everything that followed was icing on a giant cupcake. It is true that swim meets can be so very hot and it is true that you may be doing
a ton some volunteering, but that has helped me feel more connected to my team. I love timing and being right in the action. It has helped me learn the kids on the team who are in different age groups and I figure I may as well have a reason for looking like a sweaty mess while I’m there. The one legend I haven’t mentioned, but is very true is count on your grocery bill going way up if you have a swimmer. They can put down some food!
There you go! Looks like we are a swim family here to stay and if anyone would have told me swim can better your character I would have been skeptical, but I have seen examples for six summers now across every age swimmer and across the communities whose teams we have been part of. Wishing all my friends near and far a great swim season:)