Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Competitive Drowning

I want to start this week by giving my wife credit for keeping up with the kids because they have joined yet another sport. It is amazing the amount of stuff kids are into these days. When I was growing up there were three sport seasons, fall, winter, and spring. The summer was about rest, relaxation, and staving off impending boredom. In case you weren't aware, times have changed.

This summer the kids joined the junior swim team. The junior swim team is just more intense swim lessons until you can swim the length of the pool. Once you can swim the length of the pool, you can join the real swim team. We figured the kids would never swim the length of the pool but they took to water like… well fish… and the next thing we know they’re on the big kids swim team. And, our reward for joining the big kid swim team, extra practices and an invite to attend swim meets. Some reward!

But, swim team is an awfully strong description at this point. It’s really more like competitive drowning.

The kids stand on the starting blocks and “dive” into the pool. It’s more like less graceful belly flopping than diving. Then they swim to the other end. Girl is great and is crushing Boy in the times. Boy doesn’t trust the water yet to hold him up. So he fights it the whole length of the pool. I really proud of both of them because even though they don’t finish first they keep trying.

Finally, I’m sure you’ve heard the stories about the baseball dad or soccer mom going crazy and cussing and generally carrying on at the refs. Swimming is no different. Except there are no referee’s so the parents turn on their own children. They call it “cheering on” but I call it screaming.

For example, the other week I saw a Mother attack her poor boy. It must have been his third or fourth meet and he was new to it all. He jumps in and he’s struggling to get to the other end of the pool. Don’t think this is easy on the kids, swimming the length of the pool when you don't really know strokes is hard work. Not to mention this is competitive so there’s lots of screaming and shouting and even some pressure to finish.

But, this poor boy is barely floating and swimming at the same time. Every time his arm goes up to stroke he gets half a mouthful of water. Needless to say he is going slow. His mother gets in front of me and she starts in. “STROKE! GO! GO! GO! YOU CAN DO IT!” Her face is beat red and she is at the top of her lungs to get over the crown noise.

I didn’t want to tell her how to handle her kid but you could tell by the look on his face that it wasn’t helping. I wanted to telling she should be shouting “Float! Don’t drown! Float!” but I don’t think my insight would have been appreciated. Sometimes I think parents blur that fine line between encouragement and harassment. But that's just me.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds a lot like my 7 year old at his track meets. A lot of looking around at the other kids. Not a lot of running hard to be first to the line.