If water was flammable, this would be a hazard. And I would venture to say that this many kids in a pool has got to be a serious life risk, but for the fact that it is all an impressively managed, four-hour goat rodeo.
Last night, amid my meltdown, we had the pleasure of watching G swim in her very first meet of the season, as a Kirkwood Riptide. Compared to our country club meets, this was less *dressy* and more relaxed--but what Kirkwood lacks in formal dress codes was made up for with the stress of SO. MANY. PEOPLE.
Arriving at the pool and trying to figure out what G was supposed to do sent my PANIC into hyper-drive. Here's how it went: We escorted G into the team "tent", laid claim to a spot and wrote her name and event numbers/strokes on her arm in black sharpie. This is team protocol, and honestly, the ONLY WAY to properly identify and wrangle 3,864 children to their races at the appropriate time. I got a small glimpse into the world of cattle branding, and I gotta say, it makes sense.
As the meet is 4-hours long, I was sent an email of items G would likely want to have to pass the time. It included: Two towels, a blanket to sit on, swim gear, a shirt to wear between races, dinner, a snack, a water bottle, something to do (cards, books, etc.), paper to write letters home because we are going to be there for all of eternity, a photo of our family so that G remembers what we look like, and a shiv for protection in the "tent wars" that are likely to occur when you contain that many children for so many hours. I'm *kind of* kidding.
Once she's settled into the tent, Mom & Dad wave goodbye, and wait for their little swimmer to magically appear at the start blocks for their race. PAN-IC. This has the potential for disaster written all over it, but by some large miracle, G appeared at all of her races.
And she swam her little heart out! I have ZERO pictures of her actually swimming because I was too busy
Because here's the thing with G, and the reason why this team is a PERFECT fit for her. G likes to be good at things, but she lacks the competitiveness to put herself out there. Swimming, in general, is great for her because there is a time trial every week, and she can compare her times to her competitors. I don't mean this in a negative way, its actually quite positive--because when G sees that she is fast, or only a few seconds behind the fastest swimmer, her confidence soars. Without this knowledge, she will always assume she is the slowest swimmer out there; and she will perform at exactly that level. We have TRIED to boost G's confidence, to tell her she is a wonderful swimmer in her own right--but she is a timid girl that sees the world in black and white. She fears failure and as a result, she has become quite comfortable riding the middle ground. She is EXACTLY like her mother.
The other great thing about swimming for such a large team? Every event in her age group is broken down into heats, so swimmers of the same pace are competing against each other. G's time trial gave her the fastest time in the second heat of all of her strokes--which put her in a GREAT position for a confidence boost. My girl has always wanted to win a ribbon--what kid doesn't? On a new team, where her times were good, and she had yet to figure out who the better swimmers were? She was in a perfect position to PUT. HERSELF. OUT. THERE.
And she did. I've never seen this kid move so fast in water.
She managed to shave three seconds off her freestyle time, and win her heat. With a time that puts her up there at the top of her age group. All because she FINALLY thought she could.
I told her all night long how proud I was of her; not because she won, but because she REALLY tried. Finally. All those years of training her to be so safe, has led her to take so very few risks--and to watch her take a big step out of her comfort zone?