My kids are participating in Summer swim team. This is Boogie's second year and Buggy's first year. They are on the pre-team and learning how to swim. Boogie is learning to refine his freestyle and Buggy is learning to become more comfortable in the water, including going under water.
Last night Boogie swam in his first ever "real" meet. Last year he swam in the Flipper meet which is designed to give pre-teamers a taste of what it is like to swim in a meet like the swimmers on Big Team. But after practicing his freestyle the last two weeks, the coaches thought that Boogie could be placed in his first real meet. He swam in the boys 8&Under 25M Freestyle.
Directly after practice we found the local swim store and bought Boogie his first pair of jammers (instead of the old speedo bikinis, swimmers now swim in trunks that look a lot like bicycle shorts without the extra padding in the bottom). Just the day before we bought him a pair of goggles so that it would be easier for him to side breathe without worrying about the water in his eyes (see more pictures after the jump).
I think I was more worried and anxious about Boogie's foray into swim meets.
Last night we went to the away meet and Boogie practiced starting a few times. He swam in the 5th event and they allowed him to start from the wall instead of diving in. However, when they blew the whistle he thought it was the start buzzer and took off. They called him back to the wall. I'm pretty sure he was disqualified at that point, but he was allowed to swim when they actually started. My parents were there and all of the Flipper coaches and big team coaches were at the end of the pool cheering him on. I was so very proud of him. In his anxiety and excitement he forgot how to swim freestyle and ended up doggie paddling with his head up, the entire way across the pool. He worked very, very hard. At one point he pulled off about 5 good strong freestyle strokes, gave it up, and continued to doggy paddle the rest of the way. He made it about 3/4 of the way before stopping and hanging on the lane rope. He tried to start up a few more times, but he was so worn out he couldn't keep going. I think he was just done and I think he psyched himself out. One of the Big Team coaches started to strip down to get him (which was pretty awesome because he hadn't met Boogs before), but someone stopped him and told him to give Boogie a chance. He waited and continued to cheer with the rest of us. One of the Flipper coaches who had been working closely with Boogie pushed his way through the crowd to the end of the pool and yelled a lot of encouragement. When Boogie really faltered the Flipper coach also stripped down and got into the water. He stopped just short of Boogs and Boogie started to make his way towards him before stopping again. Then when Boogie said, "help me!" Coach Paul grabbed him and had Boogie kick his way to the finish.
Knowing my Boogie I know that he was really self-conscious about not being able to finish and needing help. He later told me that he was afraid that he was going to "drown-ed" and he was not proud that he had to ask for help. I told him that didn't matter. I told him that there was no way he was going to "drown-ed" and that it was okay to ask for help.
I was really, really proud of Boogie's first attempt. He'll have another shot of swimming in the 8&Under 25M Freestyle at the mini-meet this Sunday. I think that the first time is the hardest.
I am also really touched that every single coach at the meet went up to Boogie after his event and gave him kudos and high fives. That meant a lot to me because I knew how self-conscious Boogie was after the meet. To know that the coaches took the time to congratulate him and encourage him made us feel like a part of the the swim team family and for that I am grateful and gives yet one more thing to love about Summer Swim Team. Swim on, Swim hard!