I love swimming, I always have and now it is fun to watch my kids swim competitively. The older two are both doing swim team, though Maria has decided it is definitely her sport, while Ciaran is still just trying it out. Tonight they both had a swim meet together and it was fun to be a part of.
Maria managed to shave seconds off each of her races, qualifying with a B time in backstroke and improving each of her times for each stroke. She is starting to gain confidence and is just beginning to understand how much seconds and all out effort make a difference in this sport.
Ciaran had his first races, just 25m in each stroke. However he asked his coach if he could sign up for the 100free and the 100IM at the last minute and she agreed. I have to admit my heart was in my throat for those two races as I was not sure he would even be able to finish them. However he pulled that strength out and not only finished both but came in 1st and 2nd in his heats! It was a very proud moment since he was not supposed to be doing any race more than a 25m for his first meet.
We are still new to swimming as a sport beyond recreation and we are enjoying it. I love the fact that with swimming you have both the team and the individual event combination much more than in many other sports. You really work to improve purely upon your own skills as you try to beat your last personal best time. Yet you work together in relays and cheer for your teammates in all the other races.
As a parent and a fairly competitive individual I also really appreciate the high level of objectivity that comes with swimming as a sport. Many sports rely much more heavily on the subjectivity of umpires, coaches and sometimes other players. In swimming things are generally clean and easy. The rules are very clear and fairly rigid and you get disqualified when you don't follow them. The timers are electronic and located on the wall so it is done by the time they touch the wall and removes some of the room for human error or misunderstanding. The standards are the same for everyone and while heats may vary in ability and skill in the end the time is the sole determiner of who wins, loses or qualifies. It is an objective standard and one that is hard to argue with.
I know it is not perfect. There can be arguments about swim suit material, whether a flag was legitimate etc but in generally it is far more reasonable than things I have seen on the Little League baseball field just this past year. I also think the objectivity makes everyone relax just a little and be more congenial with each other. It is far easier to explain to my son why he was Dq'ed than why the coaches of the other team allow their team to play 5 outfielders while his coach only allows them 4 or why it is "okay" even though yes the umpire does seem to favor the other team.
Swimming is such a wonderful and healthy life long sport as well and one they can do on their own time. Besides there are far worse places to spend my time then poolside watching my kids swim laps. I hope they stay with it for awhile and I will enjoy cheering them and their team mates on while they are there.