Our ten-year-old daughter has been swimming on the H2Okies swim team for about 3 years now. She loves it not for the winning, or even the chance to win (she doesn’t win), but because she is at home in the water, because she has fun, and because she gets to hang out on deck with her friends.
She’s an average swimmer. She improves year over year, sometimes making new personal bests and sometimes missing the mark quite a bit. This year, she was unlucky in that she got sick right before each meet she planned to swim.
Finally, at the end of February she swam her first meet of 2016. It was a championship meet, meaning there were preliminary races in the morning (with 6:30AM warmups 😭) and finals in the afternoon.
She had a typical meet, cutting time in some events and adding time in others, with one difference. In this meet, she cut almost 6 seconds in her 200 free preliminary, which is a huge improvement. But when I looked at the times of the other girls in her age group, I noticed she was in 10th place, making her second alternate for the finals.
That may not seem like much — second alternate — but she’s never gotten anywhere close to being in a finals race before. We’ve never considered her racing in a final; there are just too many girls who are faster than her. But at this event, I got to hear her name announced over the loudspeaker at the competition pool. It was an exciting moment for an unexpecting mom.
My excitement was nothing compared to hers.
I bought her a milkshake when I drove her to school after the race. She grinned in the seat next to me while she sipped her shake and riffled through the heat sheet to see if there were any other races she might be also be competitive in.
We rode the high of her accomplishment all weekend. She raced her other events, and even swam legs on the relay team, celebrating a 3rd and a 2nd place in the 200 medley and 200 free relay events with her friends.
On Monday we went back to regular life, still excited about her placement in the Friday race, thinking about when the next meet might be when I got a text from her coach: “Can she swim some relays next weekend? One Friday, two Saturday, one Sunday.”At the Virginia Swimming Age Group Championships.
Her relay team made the cut. She gets to go to Age Groups.
She is thrilled. She even has a special practice tomorrow, where they’ll get to practice relay starts. Relays are her favorite events to race: being a part of a team where others are depending on her is hugely motivating to her. Her best splits are always in relays. But most exciting about going to Age Groups in these events, as she told me today with a big grin, is, “I love relays because I get to swim with my friends.”
I can’t describe how I feel. Proud isn’t enough. The feeling I have right now is one of the greatest joys of parenthood I’ve experienced. It is a pure happiness for another person — a happiness unrelated to myself, derived solely from the joy and pride I know she feels inside of herself. It’s an amazing feeling.