OK. So, summer swim didn’t REALLY save my life… but it definitely saved my summer!
Since becoming a mom, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with summer. I love it because… it’s summer! We sleep in, we stay up late, and we eat entirely too much ice cream. I also hate it because we sleep in, we stay up late, we eat entirely too much ice cream. For those of us who thrive on structure and schedules, summer can be a bit much. Enter, summer swim team.
I’ll admit, I was skeptical of the whole swim team idea. My sister was on a swim team growing up, and all I remember are long, hot, boring hours at the pool, and I wasn’t allowed to get in. To teenaged me, it seems like a huge waste of time. So when my husband, whose own children have participated in summer swim for 15+ years, suggested signing the boys up for swim team, I wasn’t totally sold.
I knew we needed things to fill our days. I knew we needed structure and routine. What I didn’t know what how much swim team would come to mean to my children, and me, in such a short amount of time.
Our journey with swim team got off to a bumpy start. One kid refused to even get in the water that first day. Both of my kids are decent “swimmers” and have spent significant amounts of time in and around water. We never allowed them to wear water wings or other flotation devices, and we had them in swimming lessons at an early age. However, the thought of swimming from one end of the pool to the other was a bit daunting for a couple of 5 year olds who had only ever splashed and played. In the end, one kid did get in the water that first day, and one kid watched with one of the older kids. But both were ready to come back the next day, and try it again. Over the course of the first two weeks, my boys went from barely making it the length without help, to swimming on their own in an official swim meet and winning heat ribbons!
We started swim team to give us some structure and routine for our summer days. What we got, was so much more. Whether you’ve never considered swim team, or you’ve been on the fence, here are a few things to consider as summer approaches.
1. Summer swim team is cross-generational: The youngest kids on our swim team were four, and the oldest were 18. It’s incredibly heartwarming and inspiring watching the older kids scream and cheer for the youngest. Many of the older swimmers will serve as coaches or helpers, and the little kids look up to the big kids.
2. Summer swim team is both an individual and a team sport: The great thing about swimming, is that you’re really just competing against yourself. Yes, you want do swim faster than anyone else in your heat, but you also want to beat your own best time. Our swim team awards personal best ribbons, so each time a swimmer beats their best time, they get a personal best ribbon. I loved watching my boys work to beat their best time.
3. Summer swim team is TIRING: This was an added bonus I hadn’t counted on. Not once the entire summer, did my kids complain about bedtime. NOT ONCE! Even though practice only lasted an hour each day, they were tired, and ready for bed each night.
4. Summer swim team gave my kids self confidence: As a mom, I loved watching my guys set goals and then beam with pride when they achieved them. Five year olds aren’t exactly known for their stick-with-it-ness. But, because of swim team, we joined our community center and swam as often as we could all winter long. Every time we go to the pool, my kids choose to practice. The WANT to swim laps and get better. They ask me to time them. They practice diving. I keep waiting for them to be tired of it, or bored. They aren’t! They are just as excited about swimming as they were all summer. And they can’t wait for summer to roll around this year so we can do it all again. They have both already asked when practice starts.
I know I sound like a broken record, but I just can’t recommend swim team enough! A quick Google search turned up no fewer than 15 summer swim teams in the KC Metro area. I challenge you to check it out.