No Texting and Swimming!

Now that Thanksgiving is over, high school swim season is just around the corner—Anna’s first meet is four days from now. Two friends and I are the volunteer “meet officials” for her school so we are in charge of the timers, setting up the computer, and making sure everything runs smoothly.

Anna’s school has a combined middle school/high school team, which at first glance sounds nuts, but it works. The middle schoolers (7th and 8th graders) pair up with “big brother/ big sisters” (upperclassmen) who cheer for them, support them, and help them acclimate to the team.

This is Anna’s first year being a big sister, and she’s taking her job as role model for a tween girl very seriously. She’ll be emphasizing team spirit, cheering for teammates, sportsmanship and helping clean up after the meet.

Tween girls go through a lot of changes in such a short period of time that life can get overwhelming for them. There’s sports, school, boys, and concerns about body image. In addition, today’s tweens are dealing with all the social pressures found in social media that we as parents never had to deal with. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat can add to social pressures and in some cases lead to isolation.

photo credit: Jim Bahn
photo credit: Jim Bahn

The blessing of swimming two hours a day four or five days a week is that phones and computers are not allowed near the pool—the kids can’t check Instagram while executing a flip turn! But more importantly, there is less time for social media. Swimming on a team, or participating in any sport, leads to real friendships and face-to-face conversations.

I know it sounds crazy, but as the first meet approaches I’m really looking forward to managing the meet with my friends and watching the girls form new friendships.

PassHat: Coach’s Gifts Made Easy

Every sports parent has been there, right? You offer to be the organizer of the end-of-season gift for the coaches. You send emails.  Talk to parents at practices and games. Send reminders. Collect money from those who have cash with them. Send reminders. Figure out what and how to buy a gift. Send more reminders. And a few more reminders.

Thank goodness for PassHat, a new secure online group collection service, that makes the process soooo much easier. PassHat isn’t just for coach’s gifts. You can use it for any group collection effort: class gift for teachers, co-worker’s retirement gift from the office, even a birthday present for a friend from a group of friends.

From the PassHat website:

Create, invite, remind, collect and deliver a gift from your group from the comfort of your browser. No more collecting cash, depositing checks, nagging people for a contribution or remembering to buy a gift card – PassHat does it all for you!

The added benefit that I consider the icing on the cake? PassHat offers a variety of gift cards right on its site, so you can select and deliver the gift with a click.

PassHat can be used to collect dues, registration fees, pretty much anything that requires the collective donations of a number of people. They’re offering a special 50% DISCOUNT for the Dragonwing girlgear community, so don’t hesitate.

Now, if only it could do laundry….

Check out a PassHat video by clicking here or see below.

A Fish Out of Water

Now that September has started, Anna is back in the pool four or five days a week. In the sometimes strange world of year-round swimming, most swimmers take August off to give their bodies a much needed rest. It seems odd to me that the one month kids want to swim, year-round swimmers…don’t. They can ride bikes, go for a run, lounge by a pool, play in the ocean. But swimming laps–don’t even THINK about it.

So Anna channeled her inner runner and went several times a week for runs in our neighborhood. And my girl was a fish out of water because running is NOT her sport. She wore a tween sports bra from Dragonwing which definitely helped. The Keyhole seamless sports bra, made of moisture-wicking fabric,  was soft and comfy in the August heat and fit really well across her broad shoulders. The Dragonwing sports bra made her runs more comfortable, so I am really happy we found it.

Now Anna (my fish) is back in the water as I write on this rainy evening. The heat of August will soon be a distant memory as we  settle into the routine of school, swim, and sleep. I am grateful for the structure it imposes on our life but a small part of me misses our less-regimented August lives. Late dinners on the porch, s’mores with friends and some time to catch our breath before school and swim start again. Now we’re back in the daily routine and my fish is back in the water. All is right with the world.

A Swimmer’s Body

I want to start by saying that most older teen female swimmers HAVE bodies. They have hips, thighs, butts, breasts, shoulders and some curves. They have confidence. Looking like a string bean is out. Looking and being strong and powerful is in.

This a big change for me as a former high school and college distance runner. I am short (good for a distance runner) but more solidly built than a toothpick. For most distance runners, it really is a case of “less is more.” For years my coaches bugged me about losing weight, so I would be faster.

Back to swimming. Swimmers who are training hard eat a LOT. Not junk. But high quality calories—carbs, fats, proteins. That tremendous caloric output during heavy training has to be matched by a healthy caloric intake.  Anna eats dinner #1 around 5:00 pm for her 6:00 pm practice. She gets home around 8:30 pm, showers, and then has dinner #2 which is more like a heavy snack. It usually involves some fruit, peanut butter, or leftovers from dinner #1.

So yes, women swimmers have women’s bodies. They are expected to train, to eat well, and to swim their fastest.  Swimmers have broad shoulders and strong bodies, and those are something to be admired because they represent dedication and hard work.

 

How I Became a Swim Mom

I never planned on becoming a “swim mom” but my daughter had other plans. She played rec league soccer and was a good goalie but quit early on because she said, “Mom, I get too sweaty.” I thought that was the end of her sports participation because I couldn’t think of a sport where you DON’T get sweaty. And in addition, she wasn’t very coordinated. Anna was the kid that tripped over lint in the carpet. Literally.

But she always loved the water. When Anna turned seven she decided to join our summer rec swim team, mainly because her friends were doing it. And that was my initiation into the culture of swimming. Swim meets are different from other sports competitions in that it is not a “drop off” experience. Rec league meets require LOTS of parents volunteering—timers, starters, place judges, scorers –you name it, it’s done by a parent. And I was that parent. At the end of the season she won the “most improved” award for her age group. With hindsight I believe it was a testament to her hard work.

Fast forward to middle school. Anna was still swimming on our summer team but the stress of 6th grade was taking a toll on her. She had high expectations of herself and no way to release her anxiety. She was a walking ball of stress. She would do cartwheels and handsprings until 10 or 11 pm every night trying to burn off her anxiety. In desperation, I found a fall rec swim league through our city that her friends were also joining. The pool was close, the price was right ($60 for 8 weeks) and it was a good middle step between summer rec and a full year-round program. Her coach was a former college swimmer who had all kinds of creative workouts and worked the kids really hard. At the end of every practice my anxious, tense daughter would be tired, relaxed, and happy. Swimming was her “miracle drug.”

I couldn’t say no to something that made her so happy. And as an athlete myself I knew all the benefits of training and competition—camaraderie, friendships, challenging yourself, making a commitment and sticking with it, dealing with disappointment, taking care of your body and honoring its strength and power.

Thanks to Anna there are damp towels and swim suits all over my house and my car proudly sports the “swim mom” magnet. I wouldn’t change a thing.