It stems from the fact that we always did summer league swim team growing up, coupled by the fact that my oldest sister was a phenomenal swimmer (had her Olympic trial times before blowing out her ankle in college swimming). My family LOVES swimming. My parents ran our meets growing up. I haven't missed my nephews (and now niece!) in the summer league Meet of Champs since they began swimming 8 years ago! I make it to as many meets as possible to watch them.
So I knew this summer with Jay being four (and a strong swimmer) that swimteam was likely in our future. In this league they have a thing called "Half-Lappers." It's for four (and five) year olds who can swim pretty well, but aren't ready to race just yet. They have a "race" before each home meet where the kids dive in with a buzzer and swim against each other with a coach/helper in the water (one in each lane). The littles get practice without pressure. Each kid gets a ribbon at the end (they get to choose- there is no competition). It's a really cool way to introduce swimteam before they can start in 6 & Under division in the league.
I knew Jay could swim, but I'd never had him swim a lap before. Part of the deal of the league is that the kids have to make it under 55 seconds down the pool. I had no clue if Jay could do it or not. You have to "try out" if you are border-line, and I just wasn't sure if it was even worth it for Jay to go to the try out. So we went to our gym pool that has lanes back in April and I timed him. He made it in about a minute- but he was definitely not trying and didn't really understand what he was supposed to do. The try outs were mid-May, so I just put it out of my mind until then and figured that he would make a great half lapper.
But as we swam more and more at our house, I just kept noticing how strong of a swimmer (and diver!) he was. So I sucked it up and took him to the try out. There were about 40 kids there (most were there because they were definitely in 6&u and could make it easily). About 6 kids were there to get timed, including Jay. The first three kids did it, and only one made it. So Jay dove in (he had a GREAT dive- only 6&u I saw that could legit dive from a starting position) and the team reps all immediately turned their heads to watch him. He did great and not only made it in 55 seconds, but actually in 44 seconds! He was in! And the team reps knew my sister and nephews and niece and said, "Were you actually seriously questioning if he could do it?! It's in his blood!" Then they asked how old he was and about fainted when they found out he was FOUR! Then they told me we were never allowed to move out of our neighborhood so we'd always be on their swim team! Ha!
So began our journey as a 6&u swimteam swimmer! Jay was the only four year old on our team (excluding half lappers) and the only four year old that we swam against all season (5 teams in our immediate league). It was pretty cool to watch his little career begin!
Jay started to get PUMPED about swim team. He was not even closest to the fastest kid in 6&u, but he didn't care because he was on the REAL team and got to swim at all the meets and compete. He was super into it!
The first meet was coming up, and they were practicing every. single. day. The days before the meet they practice starts with a beep- and tell each kid when they false start. Jay false started a few times in practice and was SO upset about it. So the day of the first meet all he could think about was false starting. He was pretty nervous, but I knew once he actually swam he'd be fine.
But all day the nerves are building, and he is visibly stressed out (but keeps saying he wants to do it). We get to the meet early, I walk him around and show him everything. He hears the beeps of the start, the cheering, and watches the other kids. He warms up- I tried to cover all of my bases (I'm even one of the ready bench moms so I can help him). Well, turns out the very first event these 6&u kids swim is the FREESTYLE relay! These kids have NEVER practiced a relay nor do they even know what it means. There were at least 7 kids crying (including mine) and all the moms just kept telling them not to worry and that we would tell them when to go. Eeesh. Not a good way to start.
Jay is the second leg on the relay, and it goes like this... (my mom is filming. If you don't watch the whole thing, just watch around the 50 second mark through the 1.5 min mark).
Yeah, so I had to basically push him in. He froze. He cried. I wouldn't have cared so much except it wouldn't have been fair to the three other kids on his relay for him not to swim. So I did what I thought was best and dropped him in the pool (HE WAS SO SCARED TO FALSE START THAT HE DIDN'T WANT TO START AT ALL!). Once in he swam great!! Sigh....
So that was
And then came backstroke (by the way, he has never swam backstroke in his life. He apparently learned how to do it on a Friday, and did a time trial on a Saturday for it. Turns out, he's pretty good at it and was the 6th fastest backstroker on the team- out of 26 kids! Ha!) So he gets chosen to swim backstroke at the meet (there are only two heats of all strokes other than freestyle- and only three kids per heat from each team). I am totally stressed out considering he loves freestyle and didn't want to swim that!
Anyway, he swims backstroke and does great and takes a third place! Crazy this kid!
(Can we talk about how Anthony waited for him at the end of the pool?! Melt. My. Heart. I love that man)
We got through the meet and I was fully prepared to have Jay move down to half lappers. He didn't need to feel stressed about something that should be fun, and heck, it would be a LOT easier on me to not have daily practice and four meets to attend.
I told him the next morning that he could become a half lapper and the response was, "Nooooooo!!!! I am NOT a half lapper! I am a 6&u!" and he cried. Ha! So I explained that if he wasn't going to dive him then they wouldn't let him swim and we talked and blah blah blah..... looks like he still desperately wanted to do swim team. Sigh.
The next meet was against my sister's team- and our team's BIG rivals. I had NO clue how it was going to go- I thought the first meet was going to be great and it turned out a bust. All I cared about was if Jay was going to dive in or not.
Waiting for the race to begin. Two sweet 6&u moms standing there to love on him and coax him in.
I was standing behind so he wouldn't use me as a "crutch."
My sis is in the blue tank top and pink visor- there to cheer him on, too!
It really does take a village sometimes!
It worked!!!! HE'S IN!!!!!!!
So this meet went freaking GREAT! His relay got first, he got third in free and third in back... and the kicker- he swam backstroke on the 7/8 medley relay!!!! Yes, my sweet little four year old baby swam against 8 year old boys- and kicked butt! He got third on his leg, but the relay ended up coming in fifth (much to his dismay). Here's the deal, if they don't have enough kids in one age group, they pull up a kid or two from the younger age group. They never pull up the first heat kids because they are good and they want them to stay rested and do well and score in their races. So they take a second heat kid- still good but their race isn't as important because it's not a scoring heat. After the first meet, Jay was the fastest backstroker that wasn't in the first heat. So he swam against 7 and 8 year olds! He was so proud and thought he was such a hot shot! It was really cute. Second meet was definitely a success! No push ins!!!
His leg of the 7/8 medley relay. He is the first swimmer on the relay, so you don't have to watch the whole thing!
Little sister Charley Kate made it to every meet and
socialized cheered her brother on!
This is CK and our neighbor Maggie who is a saint!
Jay and our neighbor and good buddy Braden waiting on the ready bench.
A 4 and 6 year old boy- what do you expect?!
Halfway through the season!
I am officially a dorky mom.
Sporting my kids' swim picture button. Boom.
Stay tuned for the rest of the season!