40 Reflections #33: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season
God doled out just enough water in the Rio Grande to call it a river, so growing up in New Mexico, a land-locked state, there was one activity we rarely did in my hometown. Swim. There was never a lake down the street or a pool next door. My most vivid swimming memory involves a big, bag of sour cherry candy mom would let us purchase after our swim lessons. The tanginess would help me forget about how terrified I was of deep water and make the whole day better. Another recollection was at a 4-H party when I thought how cool it would be to touch the bottom of the swimming pool. I instantly learned this is a much better idea if you actually know how to swim.
Since I wasn’t a great swimmer in my younger years, I had a do-over when I was older. Much older. In fact, I was home one summer during college, and decided to take lessons. As the first class began, I glanced in the next lane and holding onto the side of the pool was my friend Thad from high school. Implicitly, we exchanged the “I can’t believe it’s come to this” look, and proceeded to kick as we clung to the side of the pool in our beloved state surrounded by not one drop of water.
A few years back when we were looking for homes in the Atlanta area, the realtor repeatedly asked us if we wanted to live in a swim-tennis neighborhood. “No, we’re fine.” we would respond, flippantly. As our two-day search continued, we noticed 90% of the communities we visited were outfitted with the southern compound word that is swimtennis. As it turns out, we couldn’t be happier to have a pool and a court around the corner. Given my limited pool experience, I was determined to teach the kids to swim. Nowadays, most kids start their pool experience on summer swim teams. We simply taught them the basics, nothing technical.
The swim team idea never crossed our minds until our daughter decided to stop dancing at thirteen. At that point we did the “oh my gosh what will she do” panic so many parents recognize. That summer, we signed all of our kids up for summer swim. Such a brilliant concept and the best bang for your buck! Practice every day and you learn it all. Six or under is the average age to begin this summer swim career, so our children were at a SLIGHT disadvantage, at 11, 12, and 13. But they did it, thanks to a kind college student named Lucy who took them under her wing and guided them through the warm-ups, strokes, and meets.
Despite the chatter of the never-ending, all night swim meets, they turned out to be a great destination once a week. The hum of the crowd, splashing water, kids rooting for each other, Sharpie laden arms listing their events, and the excitement of winning, or not, filled the evenings. Two summers later and we have one out of three children in year-round swim. Like any transition for a teenager, it was lousy just before it got better, but today, she butterflies next to those kids who started right after diapers, and is just as strong. In her case, determination thwarts experience.
We want our children to excel and try it all: band, sports, music, languages, even swim. Ultimately, we yearn for them to have their “thing”… any spark in their day that brings them comfort and a sense of purpose.