June 22, 2012
More Life Lessons
VANCOUVER, BC, Jun 22, 2012/ Troy Media/ – We don’t have a summer cabin, camp or cottage. Instead we have summer swim club. The past 10 summers have taught me it would be impossible for my family to enjoy both.
Summer swim club, like the family holiday getaway, is all consuming. Different from winter swim club which is spread out over the entire year with only August off, summer swim club starts May 1st and runs almost daily until mid-August. With our club offering both water polo and swimming to children aged five to 18, practices can easily top 10 per week. Throw in the weekly weekend swim meets, frequent water polo tournaments and exhausted athletes and there’s little energy for anything else.
Friends and family outside of the swim world question my sanity. Why would I want to spend precious summer months and school vacation time shuttling chlorine-addled swimmers to practices and meets at ungodly hours of the day when I could be enjoying leisurely afternoons soothed by the coastal offshore breezes? Friends within the swim world understand. Swim club is so much more than swimming.
My initial intent when we first registered in May 2002 was for my children (then five and seven) to learn the basics of swimming and to maintain the fitness level they’d achieved through fall and winter soccer playing. The bonus benefits we’ve experienced are an unexpected delight.
One of the first benefits to emerge was the acquisition of time management. With such a busy practice schedule during the hectic final months of the school year, my children learned early on that free time was for homework. Today, my teenagers have it down to a fine art. Now in grade 11 and 12, TV shows and computer games during May and June are a luxury not an expectation.
Another added bonus is their surprising ability to wake up early. With practices at 6:00 a.m. several times a week, swimmers have little option. While perhaps not decidedly cheery or chatty, my two manage to fall out of bed and pull on their bathing suits within minutes of waking. This has spilled over to everyday life. Early morning airport check-ins and train departures are a breeze.
My children and I have enjoyed a third summer swim club benefit: that of good friendships with like-minded people from both within and outside our club. The frequent practices, lengthy swim meets and various social fundraising events enable us to really get to know other swimmers and their parents. Many have become like family.
The learning curve of summer swimming is huge. The first lesson? Summer swim club is all about the volunteers. Only the coaches are paid. I was shocked to learn it takes 85 unpaid souls to run a successful two-day swim meet. Eleven summers in and I’m still learning the various roles.
There is truly nothing like a summer club swim meet. Unlike winter swim club, most of the meets are held at outdoor pools; rain or shine. With swimmers expected to be on deck for warmups as early as 6:00 a.m., arrival at the pool is often a subdued one. However, it is efficient. Within minutes, tents are set up, canopies raised and chairs and sleeping bags unfurled. Without the benefit of indoor bleachers, this is our home for at least the next eight hours.
I’ve learned that to survive a summer club swim meet it is imperative not to focus on the swimming results. Leave that to the swimmers and their coaches. Swimmers have good days and bad days. My job is to ensure that my children are well fed, rested and watered.
Most important lesson of all? Do not scream out encouragement from the pool deck or bleachers. My two instilled this in me early on in our swim club career. ‘Mom. Stop. You are making a spectacle of yourself and we can’t even hear you. ‘ Duly noted.
The days of being a summer swim club parent are coming to an end for me. However, I am pleased to know that my investment of time in this venture was not wasted. Not only have my children mastered the techniques of freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly but both have found employment teaching them to others. My daughter is a part-time swim instructor at the local community pool and my son is a recent hire as a coach at our swim club. For us, the choice of summer swim club over a cabin was a good one.
More Life Lessons
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