My youngest son starts swim team tomorrow, with the big club. I’d bought him swim jammers for Christmas, and suggested he try them on.
“Mom, they’re way too small!”
I assured him that was the way they were supposed to be, to stretch over him like fish skin.
“And hard to get on!” he called from the bathroom. Then, “Mom, they’re transparent!”
“No they aren’t,” I said, “that’s just the shine of the stretch fabric, not your skin. Come show me, let me see if they fit.”
This was a stretch for him, and I thought he might refuse. He’s a modest child, doesn’t like to be seen baring too much, and this was a change from his baggy trunks. He came out like a dog newly clipped, feeling excess air on his body, taking up a different shaped space in the universe, feeling some of that universe to be a little too closely pressing.
But he was also impressed. Smiling. Felt sleek, fast, wanted to run around the house. “See? Now you’re like a fish streaking around, instead of a jellyfish in your baggy trunks.”
“I want to go swimming and try these out.”
So after supper we headed to the pool. I parked on a bench and connected my laptop to the public network, and soon he came out.
Now I could really see him as he trotted off toward the pool. He’s a little chunky, I thought,a bit shocked not to have noticed before. Guess I should have been taking him along on my runs, or got him out to swim more regularly, helping him keep that balance. So swim team will be a blessing, help him get fit again. He used to be lean and strong kid. Mustn’t make a deal of it, though, so he feels criticized. Been there with another child, overstepped my bounds thinking I was being “helpful.” Just quietly be more proactive in providing healthier meals and snacks, and more exercise. Fortunately he’s a very energetic kid.
Swimming has been a good sport for our family, ever since we joined a neighborhood pool we live by back in the ’00s. We like the team and individual aspects of the sport, the emphasis on fun and fitness, and, frankly, the way it keeps everyone clean without too much bother. Competition is optional in clubs–one can opt into meets as well as events, and teams include all ages. Furthermore, pools tend to be pretty nice places to hang out for the spectators (and in my experience the spectators are well behaved, if sometimes rather shrill, and supportive of all swimmers). Plus there’s the extra fun of being a volunteer timer or official (“best seats in the house”).
Swimming is great fitness, and a lifelong pursuit if one chooses. And unlike so, many sports, one can begin any time–in fact, school leagues generally only start at the high school level. How many team or individual sports can boast that? If you miss the boat on soccer or baseball little league due to whatever circumstances or choices, it’s pretty hard to break in as an older player and have some success. I have seen new swimmers on my son’s high school team go from not wanting to put their face in the water to making decent times by the end of one season. Sure, it takes courage to plunge in at that late a stage, but it’s entirely possible, and one is guaranteed sufficient competitive action. Swimming also has the advantage of a low level of injury (think pulled shoulder muscles, a few scrapes and bumps if not experienced), as well as conferring a higher level of safety to other water sports and pursuits.
My oldest son has two seasons left of high school swimming, and he takes it pretty seriously, doing club at the same time. He’s also started working as a swim instructor and lifeguard at our neighborhood pool in the summers. I no longer have to drive him to club and from high school workouts, thank heaven, now that he has his license and a spare car.–no more up at 5:00 am three times a week for a total of three commutes a day just for him. He even picks up his sister now after her workout at a different pool (his club team senior group full, or she would work out there). My third child chose horse riding rather than swimming, so I drive her a few times a week to an arena outside of town. Our youngest will now be swimming two times a week before school, which should allow me to do laps as well. Even I could join a team at my age if I chose–there’s a masters group at that pool. Though I’m not a master–I can’t do butterfly or starts and turns. But I aim to learn what I can. Then I can stay clean and fit for life, too. But that would mean up at 5:00 am again, and I’m more of a 6:30/7:00 kind of person.