Monday, June 23, 2014


The Coop in the middle and leading the pack.
I observed something in my oldest this weekend. Something I liked, but can't really describe. But I think it was grit.

He is such a good little breaststroke swimmer. Really. This is not me bragging. He is good at it. He's a natural. His body was made for it. He loves it.

The other strokes are just warm up for what he considers the big race. Because the Indiviual Medley -- or IM -- includes the breaststroke he likes that one too. Saturday, however, he DQd in the IM. After absolutely improving in every way on butterfly, he settled into a questionable pace for backstroke and then -- and this will be all swimmer-y and technical -- he flipped an illegal turn on the back to breast transition. Guh. And he knew it. So the rest of the race was just painful for him.

Out of the water he put on a good face. I actually thought to myself, "Oh I guess Coop IS a 9-year-old who swims for fun. This doesn't bother him at all." Plus, I'd like to point out, he caught up his first relay team to ensure a win, won the breaststroke, placed in the 100-meter freestyle, and swam up with the 11-12-year-olds in the 4x50-meter freestyle relay to win. This one DQ out of five very successful races seemed like peanuts.

Then Sunday rolled around and we went about our business. A family walk cut short by a going-away party at the swimming pool. None of the other kids are swim team kids. So I knew Coop would get in some relaxing play in the water.

When I showed up to take him home, I found him away from the group and in the lap pool. The kid was swimming his turn over and over and over, again. I had to tell him he was wonderful. Get out. Rest.

Some of us have this. This drive to practice so much that we not only do something perfectly, we never do anything but perfect. Some of us don't. Coop has two gifts. He was given great turn-out and a body for breastroke. But he also has the gift of grit. It's the second I admire.
Swim team friends are fun friends!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Everybody In The Pool

I'm always shocked my sons swim. Something I made from scratch can swim. I can't even pretend I'm a proficient swimmer. So, I brag on the first dive of every season. Especially since the season starts with three days of cancelations due to snow -- it's an outdoor pool. On the fourth day, 51 degrees and partly cloudy, Coop jumped in with the rest of them. He's a beast. A scrawny, 60 lb, size 24 jammer, and zero body fat, but he is a beast. 

That is why I am totally confused. On the last day of school my Coop came home carrying a lime green pillowcase filled with the junk of his desk. You can imagine the contents: chewed pencils, unfinished homework, graded papers, toilet paper roll totem pole, and a memory book.  I paid particular attention to the memory book seeing as I've forgotten so much lately.

Flipping through the pages there were a few expected assignments -- all teachers give them -- and a few surprises. 

Expected assignment: a visual representation of words that describe Cooper. He has dreamed them up himself and colored the pictures in bright colors. Phrases he uses to describe himself include: I'm a good at swimming. I'm not good at hula hoops. I like playing with my brother. I want to be an amazing swimmer. I do not want to be a mean man. I feel excited when I win a race. I do not like cats!

Unexpected assignment: a New Year's Resolution. Actually, the assignment itself did not surprise me.  What surprised me is what he wrote. (Let me reiterate, this was completed in the classroom. This was not a home assignment. My hands and eyes did not touch this document until 6 months after it was written. It read, "My New Years resolution is to make it to the All stars. I will complete my goal by going to every practice. I will also complete this goal by not goofing around during practices. The last thing I will need to do to accomplish my goal is listening to what my coaches and parents say. As you can see I've got a lot to do, but I am definitely going to reach my goal!!!"

"Interesting," I thought to myself. Later that night I told him I had read his goal and that I would help him any way I could. This is about the same time I ordered new jammers for the season, cleaned out the swim bag, and moved all the pool towels down to the laundry room for a freshen up. 

Then the boy asked to see All Star times. I swear it. This turned into a whole conversation in which he realized that now he would have to swim 50- and 100-meters races to compete as a 9-10 boy. Very funny stuff. 

After that, I was catching up with an old friend, also a swim mom. I told her the story of Coop asking about times and he stood there and denied it. 

I'm new at this tween parenting thing. Did I embarrass him? He put the monster goal out there. He asked to see the times. But only I can know?!?!? Weird times at this swim fan's house.

Mason often gets the pool to himself during night practices because all the swim team kids go to the lap pool. And everyone else goes home. He loves it!

This pictures shows how far ahead Coop got his relay team -- you can't even see the other competitors!