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Katy Mother Gets Ready for Summer Tradition

Guest post by: Usha L. Machiraju

This is my sixth trip back to the car, I have the list of things that need to be packed, and I am franticly checking them off as they go into the trunk.  Towels – check. Food two small coolers for the kids and a big one for us – check. Swim suits, caps and goggles – check. Folding chairs and a beach umbrella – check . Plenty of water and sunscreen – check.  No, we are not going to the beach. We are going to another swim meet!

Like many other parents these days, my husband and I feel like we should give our children every opportunity that we can to explore and excel in as many sports as possible.  They need the exercise and who knows if they get really good at it, it might help them enroll in or maybe even get a scholar ship to a good college.  We have two girls aged 8 and 10 who are completely averse to any type of physical activity and do not have an ounce of competitive spirit between them.  They are straight-A students who play the piano beautifully, but they really needed to be involved in a team sport.

We tried soccer, the one on one practices were fine, but whenever they saw the opposing team running towards them for the ball our two girls would run off the field screaming for their lives.  We tried tennis and gave that up too when we watched them unsuccessfully dodge the tennis ball.  And so came and went a few other sports.

But this summer we enrolled them on a swim team.  They both know how to swim, no one is coming at them or after them and there are no balls involved, so how hard can that be?  The pool where the team practices is not far from our house, we can ride our bikes there so we set out for our first practice in high spirits. And we were not disappointed!

Both my daughters thought it was fun and a lot of the other kids were from their school so it felt like play time.  But when they realized that they had to swim for 45 minutes to an hour every day and do as many as 40 to 50 laps, the whining and the complaining started.  First they protested then their bodies protested.  Sore muscles, summer feet, water in the ears and everything that goes with being in a community pool for prolonged hours.  And that’s just the kids; we as parents had to learn a lot of things too.

I am not sure about the other swim teams out there, but the one we were part of has swimmers of all calibers, in every age group.  There were some kids who were first timers, and there were some who have been competing since the age of 5.  Here are some of the things parents of first timers must know: your kids are not going off to the junior Olympics after two seasons of a summer swim league, in fact your kids might not even get to swim in every event at a swim meet. Don’t get frustrated.

What you can do is to take your kids to every practice and every meet, and encourage them in every way possible.  The practices are gruesome; you do not get to sleep in when school is over.  And the swim meets were a revelation of their own; they last for hours and are chaotic at best.  By the end of the season, we are nowhere near our goal of a college scholar ship, but our kids are better swimmers, they had lots of fun, made many new friends and learned how to be part of a team.

Swimming seems to be a risk free and fun sport, so why not enroll in long term team?  When both our kids tried out and made it into such a team, I proudly told the new coach that they swam in a summer league and she said “Oh, compared to this that is like play time.”  We are in for a very long year!

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