We didn’t have a swim team growing up. Heck, we didn’t even have a pool.
There was a city pool that we frequented, but no organized swim team. They didn’t even offer swim lessons. For that, you had to drive at least 20 miles to the YMCA. We learned to stay above water in creeks and rivers. Our “lessons” consisted of getting thrown into water that was over our heads. If you made it out, congratulations! You’re a swimmer!
It seems as though no neighborhood is complete these days if it doesn’t have its own pool and clubhouse. When we bought our home in St. Charles County four years ago, amenities were not high on our priority list. We simply wanted a nice home in a nice neighborhood where we could be happy.
With the summers in Missouri hot and heavy, we soon realized we should have put “pool” on our home shopping wish list.
We enrolled E and C in swim lessons through the Renaud Spirit Center. They learned to float and blow bubbles, but even after three years of summer lessons, they still were not really swimming. Last year we looked into the RSC swim team, but in order to join, they had to be able to swim across the length of the pool without touching the bottom. I didn’t think the boys would be able to do it. I watched those swim team kids, who were no older than C, swim across the pool with perfect freestyle form. I wanted that for my kids.
This year we joined a club so the boys would be able to swim. The only requirement for joining the swim team was the desire to swim. I signed them up and anxiously awaited the first practice.
C was excited and ready to go. E was resistant. He wanted to swim, but it was new and different. He never looks forward to anything he’s unfamiliar with. So I did what a lot of parents do when their children are resistant- I bribed him.
It’s not something I’m proud of, but sometimes you would do almost anything to get your child to try something you know would be good for them. E had been talking about wanting to take guitar lessons for months. I told him if he joined the swim team and tried his hardest, once the season was over, we would sign him up for the lessons. He was beside himself and couldn’t wait to get through this swim team obstacle to get to his guitar-picking goal.
But I saw a transformation in both of my boys. By the end of the first week of practices, they were swimming easily across the pool six, seven and eight times. By the second week’s end, they were doing the back stroke, the breast stroke, the butterfly- a stroke that made E stand up in the middle of the pool at practice and exclaim, “Mom! Look at me! I’m a professional swimmer!”
Swim team was a big commitment. They gave up sleeping in and every Monday was practice and a meet. The meets routinely lasted about four hours and found all of us falling into bed at the end of the night. But we never felt like we were giving up our summer. We all made new friends and had fun at the pool almost every day. Not only did E and C learn how to swim, they learned every stroke and looked every bit as good as the swimmers I had admired the year before. I was so proud of them, and they were proud of themselves.
We were sad to see the season end, so much so, I’m looking into year-round swimming through the St Peters Rec-Plex.
For now, however, it’s time to make good on those guitar lessons.