A SWIM MOM'S BLOG

A Fun | Informative | Interactive | Interesting | blog about youth competitive swimming

March 1
by Tammy
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Welcome to swimmom.org. This site is about youth competitive swimming and it is going to inform you ~ educate you ~ tell you stories and share advice ~ and maybe even make you laugh and cry at the same time. We cover everything from drills and technique to fitness and nutrition and of course all the human aspects of being a swim mom (or swim family) ~ the highs and lows and everything in-between. This is an interactive blog… so feel free to join in and share your stories or tips or tricks. So sit back, make yourself at home and enjoy the site and tell all your friends about us. We have a a lot of features and are adding more constantly so keep checking back. In the helpful links section we have links to sites that we think are either either essential reading or maybe great swimming videos. We also have a few affiliate links that swimmom recommends.

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March 22
by Tammy Guinan
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And So It Ends…

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The YMCA season has come to an end, and a fairly bittersweet end at that. Our younger swimmer made it out of divisionals and into champs for the first time and she was amazing!! While she didn’t set the pool on fire with her speed and ability, she did set it on fire with her smile and determination! She showed up to swim and kept her team pumped up and laughing the whole time! That’s the amazing thing about her, no matter whats going on, she will make you laugh and find a way to make you happy. She is my girl that I am pretty sure will never know what her times are. She just doesn’t care that much about what her times are and when she gets done with a race, the first thing she asks is if she got a better time than the last time. That is the mark of a kid who has it all together. She is racing herself and the clock and doesn’t care about what the people around her are doing. She tries her hardest to be first in her lane at practice and just beat her own times. She fools around at practice a bit (or maybe more), but when it’s time for a meet, she is all business until her heat is over then it’s back to fooling around and making people happy! She wants to swim everything, and I mean everything – she was the only 8&U to swim the 100 Free and the 100IM – and she begs for more.
Our older swimmer,  did great too, perhaps could have done better but did well anyway. She was only 1.39 seconds from making a zone time and she just couldn’t hit it. We even drove an hour and forty-five minutes to buy her a tech. suit at Aquatics Outfitters of Ohio (which is a way cool place with everything that competitive swimmers need… in one place).  She was upset but I must say she handled it much better this year than she has in past years. Her knee hampered all year (thank God there is no damage or anything serious – just muscular) which sort of threw her off all season. So for her, maybe the lesson is overcoming adversity and persevering, or maybe most important – stretch, stretch, stretch. Which lead us to a last chance meet – I’m not a huge fan of those. In case you don’t know what they are, here is a brief explanation. A team hosts the meet and you show up and pay as you swim. There are no touch pads and no electronic times, they are all hand times. (I have my own thoughts on that.) They have 3 timers per lane and they average the times and that is what the swimmer gets. You can swim whatever stroke you want and as many times as you want. From our experience, if you can’t hit it on the first try, it’s almost pointless to try again. Your mind and body get so defeated after missing that you almost always pick up time in the all subsequent swims. I can say that I have never seen so many tears on a pool deck as I do at last chance meets! The kids get so pumped up and then if they miss it, they just can’t help but cry, hence the issue with the second and further swims being not a good idea. However, they are necessary and we will most likely be at many, many more. This leads me to what happened when we visited the last chance meet. This year J had her BFF with her so it wasn’t so bad, usually she is there alone, so it was nice to have a friend there. Well, as I mentioned she needed to drop 1.39 seconds for her zone time. She felt it, she was in the zone, and she was ready to go. She got on the block and swam her heart out, she dropped 1.33 seconds on her first swim – yes .03 seconds away from her zone, using three hand times! She tried again and as suspected, picked up time and was done!
We discovered some things that we hope will change for next year but that seems to be an uphill battle. In the entire season last year J only dropped 1.39 seconds in her breast stroke (which is what she was trying to zone in). Throughout the entire season’s practices, noticing that the strokes  were not improving and since parents are locked out of practices, we would ask “did you work on this? or that?” and the answers were always no, we just swam – I don’t think the dedication was there from the coach’s and it showed. She worked with another coach after champs for 3 practices and dropped 1.33 seconds in a matter of 2 weeks. It’s very disheartening to have something like this happen because I think if the things she worked on for the 2 weeks would have been focused on all year, she would have made her time way early in the season. There is so much more, but I wont get into it now. I wonder what other people do in this situation. See, the kids LOVE this team, because of the friends they have made, but I can’t stand it. Yes there are friends, and I love the parents of the swimmers, but the kids don’t seem to progress and the Y management has told me before that they are not in it to “breed” Champions. Well does that mean you don’t try, or that you don’t give every kid 100% of your time and effort as a coach? When I know there are teams and coaches out there that want to see the kids perform at their best and achieve anything they are willing to work for but can’t tell my swimmers that because they are dead set on staying right where they are.  For us, being a “champion” is not the goal – rather the goal is to perform at your highest capabilities (whatever they may be). That starts with the player and coach first being “all in” to achieve the best for the player and the team. Unfortunately, as in life, sometimes people become jaded, and forget why they started “coaching” in the first place. What do you do? I have never been one to force my kids to do anything, I don’t push them any more than they want to be pushed. I think that leads to problems and the kids end up hating the sport because it seems like a job more than a fun sport and I NEVER want my kids to feel that way about anything. They set goals and try to achieve them, I push them to achieve the goals they set, and frequently tell them they get in the pool for themselves not for me.  Along those lines, it’s hard to ask them to switch teams, but I want them to have the best opportunity to achieve their goals and swim to the best of their ability.  Any suggestions??

Can’t wait for summer season to start – pretty soon!!

Splash you later – if you have a lane you have a chance-

Swim Mom

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February 12
by Tammy Guinan
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Swimming has it’s Ups and Downs

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Well, here we are heading into championships and the end of the fall swim season and boy have we had our ups and downs!!
Let’s start with the ups, because they are just far more fun! First up is that my 8 yr old made it to champs in her breast stroke and she will be anchoring the free relay!
This kid has had one heck of a swim season this year! Her improvement is amazing over last year and it is because of her determination and will to win, that and a few ducks for heat winners will always do the trick!
This past weekend we had a pentathlon meet and she did so well! Once she found out there were ducks to be won, she was on the case and I saw in here an amazing drive to win. One of her races the swimmer next to her was catching up and I watched her turn on the jets and swim harder than I have ever seen her finish a race. When she got out I commented on how awesome it was to see her finish like that, and she promptly told me that she needed another duck to complete the duck family and that was the last race of the day! Seriously, that’s some motivation. I was talking with our 8u coach and told her we needed to start handing out ducks at practice so the kids always put out 110%!
Winning a Duck
We are heading out of town again for an invitational this weekend and once again my 8 yr old wants to swim the distance! We are letting her do the 100 IM and reigning her in for the rest of the meet, but I’m so excited that she still wants to do the distance!! I can’t wait to see her time improve in that.  I was looking at our team stats and she is the only 8u kid to swim the 100 free and the 100 IM!  I think that alone is amazing, but I am partial cuz she is mine!
Can’t wait to see how well she does at champs on March 1!!

I said we have had our ups and downs right?  You have heard the up and now the down!  Back in October I told you how my older swimmer suffered a knee injury swimming the breast stroke.  We went through PT and thought we were being careful and that it healed up well.  I guess that is why I am a swim mom and not a doctor!  While swimming at practice a few days ago she got out of the pool in tears and couldn’t continue.  The stupid knee was hurting again!  We pulled her from practice, did the heat and ice and rest for that day and the next with the hopes that she would be OK to swim the pentathlon. There were several reasons for her wanting to swim there, besides that it was a swim.  At this point last year, she was 1.8 sec away from a Zone time and she hit that time at this meet exactly 1 year ago.  This year she was 1.5 sec away going into this meet and was feeling it!  She got in to do warm ups and sort of test how it felt, and sure enough – it was still bothering her!  I knew she needed to sit but she’s at an age where I want her to see that too and be a part of the decision. She had to scratch the whole meet – one less chance for hitting the zone and now questionable for the next invitational and champs! I can’t even begin to tell you the pain and disappointment in her face when she made the decision to scratch! She was defeated and I couldn’t do anything about it! She rationalized at that moment how she could fix her knee, train for the Presidential (our invitational coming up) hard enough to make up for the missed swim and be 100% for champs!  We went to 2 different docs (perhaps thinking one of them would say she was fine and no worries) and while we did get different approaches, the recurring theme was rest for a while! The good news is that it is muscular and not tendon or ligament, so she needs to strengthen it and take time to get it to 100%.  Well, she doesn’t have a while in her mind! One of the docs told her that if she thought she could swim through the pain she wouldn’t do any permanent damage to the knee and that was her call.  He gave her some exercises to do and told her that being in the pool wasn’t bad but perhaps she should work on the pulls and leave the kicking until she really needed it – he also suggested she NOT swim breast stroke.  The real bad news is that she made champs in the breast and the fly! That is really just our luck.
I know I talked about this back in October but that was really just about the injury.  I can’t get over the emotional part of it.  Being the Mom of a swimmer that has worked so hard to achieve her goals and to watch them slip away, not by the clock but by the physical body that is training so hard to achieve them.  The docs said it’s not really a technique thing with this injury, its just a common thing for breast strokers.  Kind of like shoulder injuries in pitchers.  The breast stroke kick is a weird one and not a natural motion in the leg, so as you push harder with your legs you are straining the muscles that don’t normally move in that direction. Such a big part of me wants to say that’s it, you had a great season but we are done now, summer season will be starting soon enough, you can rest and get 100% for that and come back next fall ready to go.  The other part of me says heck no don’t quit, do the best you can you worked so hard for this.  We have been putting these decisions in her hands lately and she has been very good at the pros and cons of what decision she makes so I think I am going to allow that to continue (until I have to step in).  If she thinks she can swim, then we let her, if not then we call it quits and keep our chins up.  I know she really wants to swim champs so hopefully we can get her OK for, at the very least, that. I’m gonna hang up my mom guilt on the towel rack and see what happens!!

If you have a lane you have a chance – see you on deck-

Splash you later,

Swim Mom!!

swimmom.org

February 1
by Tammy Guinan
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Social Event or Sporting Event

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Our YMCA team went on a journey to swim meet that was about 4.5 hours away from home!  We made a weekend trip out of it and I must say, we had a blast!  I want to give a shout out to the PCY Tigersharks for their hospitality and the ability to run a very efficient meet.  There were about 1000 swimmers at this meet, most of them local clubs, I think we took the prize for the farthest away!!  This meet was one of the most organized and well run meets I have attended!  They even did a parade of athletes between the older and younger sessions on the final day.  It was so cool, the kids, from all teams,  all dressed up in tiger costumes and carried signs and paraded around the pool deck to “the eye of the tiger” and when all swimmers were around the pool, they paused and did and awesome rendition of YMCA by the Village People!  It was so fun and the swimmers were so excited.

I even met some very nice people at this meet!  There were amazed that our team, while only about 15 kids out of 80, traveled that far for a swim meet.  We have always traveled and most of our meets are at least an hour away anyway so this was not that far off and we made a weekend out of it. The meet was held at Miami University in Oxford Ohio. They have an amazing facility.

Making a weekend out of meets brings me to something that I wonder if it plagues you and your swimmers too.  At the PCY meet, my younger swimmer did amazing!  She dropped over 30 seconds on her Sunday swims alone, added a few and dropped a few on Saturday but over all swam very well and was totally focused and driven to beat her old times and make some PR’s (personal records). My older swimmer however, did amazing on Friday night, which we thought would set the tone for the rest of the weekend. She was the only swimmer from our team swimming on Friday so we were the only ones there for that.  She gained time on everything but one event on Saturday and Sunday, when the rest of the swimmers were there.  It seemed that once the rest of her friends got there, the meet turned from sporting event to social event.  We have another meet during the season that is an overnight event and historically she swims amazing in that particular pool, except when there is an over night involved.  Do you think that the social side of the weekend meet can take over the swimmer side of the brain and effect performance?  It sure seemed that way for this particular meet.  Had I not met the very nice people that I met I would have questioned going back to swim this meet in the future, because of the drive and expense, but because I met some nice people and the meet was so well run,  I recommended to the team that we for sure go back next year.

I was so happy that my younger swimmer did so amazing, we talked about it the whole way home and it made the drive not so bad!  She is one amazing athlete!  She got to bring home a couple heat winner ribbons and even won a ribbon for placing in one of her events!  She gets so excited over the awards, even just the heat winner ribbons, that it keeps her going for weeks and keeps her coming back to the pool for more.  She will give you 110% – 110% of the time.  She isn’t the best swimmer on the team in her age group, but she is the hardest worker and never gives up!  At the PCY meet she wanted so bad to swim a 100 IM (she is an 8 & under so that isn’t offered in her age group, she has to swim 10 & under for that) and we let her do it and she did fantastically, even beat a couple kids older than her.  You should have seen the look on her face when she was done, she was nothing but smiles and so proud of herself for accomplishing something she really wanted to do!  We talked about our next invitational and she wanted to swim all the distance swims and we finally talked her down a little and settled on letting her do the IM again!  I think she will be the kid that is the last one at every meet because she had to swim the 1650 (mile) swim!  Good thing her sister will have to be there so she will have someone to change the lap counter.  She is actually excited for the day that she can give that a try.

Thanks again to the great people of the PCY Tigersharks for making what could have been an agonizing trip an amazing one that I can’t wait till next year to attend!  Next year we have to hook up early so we can sit together before Sunday, you really made my trip worth it!

If you have a lane you have a chance- see you on the pool deck -

Splash you later,
Swim Mom