It was 12℉ (-11℃) this morning when our daughter and I pulled out of the garage at 5:10 to drive to swim practice. Less than 12 hours prior, when we were on our way home from swim practice, she told me she wanted to start going to morning practices on Wednesdays.
“They do power towers and parachutes on Wednesdays. It’s a really fun practice! Can I start going?”
“Oh, parachutes!” I said. Because this actually made sense to me. “Those must be when you strap that little parachute to your waist and drag it behind you when you swim. And I don’t know what power towers are, but I like the sound of it.”
“It’s when we fill the big garbage cans with water, and they’re attached to this pully thing on the deck, and we strap a cord to our waist, and as we swim away from the wall, we lift the big bin of water,” she said.
How can I say no to that? This would make three 5:30am swim practices per week. Which is fine with me. I like going early in the morning. I can get my own swim in, and when I’m done, I have a dry locker room all to myself. I made the mistake once of swimming in the afternoon and finishing my workout at the same time the swim team did. The locker room was wall to wall swim team kids all talking over each other, dripping everywhere, stinky swim gear and sandals and sneakers strewn over every available bench, locker, and floor tile. Never again.
So when she asked last night if we could start going to Wednesday morning practices, I was happy to oblige.
“I’m glad we got all the bookshelves out of the garage so we can pull the car in,” I told her. Getting into a cold car at 5 o’clock in the morning is the worst, especially if you have to scrape the windows, and the steering wheel and seats are frigid, and the cold seeps into your bones and you know you’re about to strip all your warm clothes down to a swim suit and jump into water.
As at every morning practice, we pulled into the dark parking lot at 5:28am, along with all the other swimmers, including the 16, 17, and 18 year-olds ones who drive themselves. Moonlight glittered on frozen grass. Bless their hearts for having that kind of dedication and discipline.
As at every morning practice, at 5:29, all the car doors started opening, and the kids piled out of cars to hike up to the front door of the aquatic center, where the staff open the door at precisely 5:30. When I got out of our car, I heard a loud clatter as one of the kids next to us dropped something on the ground.
“My fin bag is frozen!” he said. And then I heard a loud thunk.
“Dude, did you leave everything in your car overnight?”
“Yes, my water bottle is frozen, too.” He fumbled with his gloves so he wouldn’t keep dropping things.
And I thought, man, these poor kids. They’re getting up at 4:30 to drive themselves to swim practice, with cold steering wheels and seats, and windshields to scrape, because you know the 16 year-old isn’t getting the spot in the garage if there is one. And to top it all off, their gear is frozen.
And yet they go on. Bless their hearts. I am in awe of these kids.