So, in my earlier post I said that I would easily choose ballet over swimming and that it is easy to knock myself down in swimming, especially this year. Though, now that swim team is over for the year and I have gotten a chance to recharge, I do miss swim team already.
This summer has been filled with a bit of disappointment. Breaststroke has always been my favorite and best stroke, but this year it has given me nothing but stress, pressure, frustration, and disappointment. Though, I put all of this on myself.
I was never able to drop time this year, in anything. At least for the other 4 events I was able to reach last year’s times, though I never really dropped from them. However, in breaststroke, I wasn’t even able to get last year’s time. I was off by about a second. Each week I built a fantasy about what I would do if I reached my goal, but when I never did it was always harder because of the fantasy that I dreamt up. I tried not to over analyze or fantasize, but it was so hard for me that I still did it a little bit each week. There were so many things that I thought could have been wrong with my stroke. That was the problem. I thought too much. I began to over analyze and worry too much that I forgot the really important step: to just swim and have fun because, after all, breaststroke is my favorite stroke. At our last meet someone came up to me and told me not to worry. It was God’s job to worry and our job to do the work. What ever happens, happens for a reason. (or something along those lines. Sorry I didn’t get the words quite right, but it has the same meaning) That is probably something that I will always remember.
Along with not being able to drop time in anything, I didn’t really know where I fit in socially. As a “Flipper Helper” (more on that later) part of my job was to play with the little kids during social events so that they knew that they fit in and belong with the team. I really don’t mind doing that, I had just as much fun as the kids, but even still I do like to be with people more of my age. I am the only female 13-year-old on the team so that means everyone I am around is either a year older or younger than me. Though, I do not mind being with people +/- 2-3 years my age. It is just that the people only a little younger than me talk about things that happen at their school (and we don’t go to the same one) or when I come join them after playing with the younger ones they are already in the middle of a long conversation with inside jokes and it is awkward for me and I feel left out. There are also a few that I don’t mind being around, but after a while they tend to talk about themselves a lot or whine. I’m not saying that I need all, or even most of the attention on me, but it is annoying how some of them always link one of my stories back to themselves or whine as if they are the only ones who have any problems. Then the older kids often act like the younger ones and talk about typical teenage stuff that I am really not into.
What I’ve been swimming also hasn’t been that good. My least favorite stroke, backstroke, had become one of my usual this summer. At one pointe I really over reacted about swimming it. For the last meet I thought for sure that I wouldn’t be swimming it, but when I found out I was I got really frustrated in front of my brother, who for this last meet was only swimming one event; and that was a relay, not an individual event. To put that into perspective, I was upset about swimming backstroke though I was swimming the full 5 events while my brother was only swimming one thing. I felt really bad about it, especially since I knew that he was right about everything he had said then.
How I’ve been swimming
How it could be worse: Could it be coming in last as opposed to 3rd & up, or not even have an all-star time.
Solution: Stop worrying about it, just have fun
Not knowing where I fit in
How it could be worse: Every one could hate me, even the little kids
Solution: Focus on who I’m with
So, even with everything that didn’t work out this year “Flippers” was the highlight of the season. Flippers is what we call the pre-team members, those really learning how to swim. Even though I am still slightly too young to be a full coach I still help out with them as a “Flipper Helper”. This has been my 3rd year in this position. Basically I am a helper to the coach. I am usually the one to go get equipment if needed and once the coach has told the kids what we are doing I help work with the kids one on one and offer corrections. This year has worked somewhat differently though. I have acted more of a full coach where I have started to come up with more of the ideas of what we can do to keep the little ones interested and engaged, but still work on a swimming skill. In our 9:30 session, which is where the younger kids are, I helped with our youngest swimmers; the “bubble blowers”. These kids are really those who aren’t very comfortable in the water and our goal is that by the end of the season they can all go completely under water, can mostly do the floats on their own, and can do the kick-board with minimal help from a coach. This year with them was so productive. I got three of the youngest to go completely under and to kick in streamline with their face in the water blowing bubbles using a pool noodle. There was even 1 that could do the floats all by himself. I’m so proud of my 3 boys! I hope that they come back next year and improve their skills that they have worked so hard on already.
Though, the day is not over yet, there is still the 10:30 flipper session. This is for the more advanced kids who are already comfortable and learning freestyle and backstroke. The group that I worked with was so amazing–different than the 9:30 little kids. Here they are better at following directions and have an easier time understanding the correction that I am giving. Also, they all pretty much became pretty good friends with one another and cheered each other on during meets. One girl in particular needed some encouragement. Being 10, she had to do 50 meters of freestyle which is 2 laps and very hard for a first year swimmer. Though, I worked with her and she did it without stopping at all during practice. I was so proud of her and I wanted her to do it in a meet. That night she did it for the first time in a B-meet and was so proud of her huge accomplishment. She was even fast enough to do it in an A-meet that saturday. However, she didn’t do as well and lost her confidence. On Wednesday when she had one last chance to do it, she didn’t want to because she didn’t think that she could do it again. I however didn’t want her missing out on her last opportunity to swim that event of the season, knowing that she would regret it. I managed to convince her to do it and she was really glad that I had, too, saying she dropped 3 seconds and did even better that her first time. At the end of the season she gave me a really sweet hand-made card thanking me for sticking by her and giving her the confidence she needed to do what I knew she could. I definitely felt like I made a lasting impact on her and that means a lot to me. That is really what I want to do with my life, and right now the way to do it is by coaching.