The upside to being a swim parent with no life — FranklyStein

Six of our last eight weekends have been usurped by swim meets.

The madness started the second weekend in January and won't let up until after this weekend. Between high school championship meets, meets hosted by our kids' teams and state championships, I'm starting to exhale chlorine. I'm not just talking about a few hours on a Saturday — these meets suck up the entire weekend.

Last weekend I was in St. Mary's from Thursday afternoon through Sunday evening with my youngest. The weekend before we were at the Naval Academy with two of the teens. It's really awesome that they made these meets, but I'm craving a bit of time at home. Last weekend, I went five days without laying eyes on my husband.

I have to say, however, there is a positive side to this crazy swim thing. After reflecting a bit, I came up with five good things about swimming. Here they are:

 

1. Watching the kids swim.

Swim Mags

They aren't the fastest kids in the pool, but they do pretty well. They may not make finals at these championship meets, but they sure make me proud. Maggie has a beautiful stroke and just looks like a natural in the water. Lilly doesn't love swimming, but I love that she sticks with it, sets goals and works so darn hard. Adam has started pushing himself more than I ever imagined and swam both the 1000 and 1650 at states this year — which gave us a whole lot to watch. Jonah is my most enthusiastic swimmer — cheering his heart out when he's on a relay and never, ever complaining about going to practice.

2. The awesome friends my kids have made.

Swim Jo Friends

Someone told me recently that there is nothing like swim friends. They go through grueling practices together day after day, support each other through wins and losses and make a mundane sport totally worth it. All four of my kids have made amazing friends through swimming, and it warms a mom's heart to see them enjoying and supporting each other.

3. The awesome friends I have made.

Swim Friends

Over the years, I have met many wonderful swim parents. I'd never get through these eternal swim meets without them. From the dad who's always willing to go on a Starbucks run, to the mom who meets me for crack-of-dawn runs during meet warmups, to those who let me squeeze with them on the bleachers — they have all become friends. My swim friends cheer for my kids, sympathize when they don't do well and still let me sit with them even if I have the wrong team shirt on. I'm really going to miss them when my kids go off to college.

4. Time with the kids.

Swim Lil Adam

Traveling to swim meets means the chance to be with just a couple of my kids at a time. When you have four kids, getting time with just one or two is pretty special. Last December, I spent a weekend with my twins at a meet in Virginia. I loved hanging out with them and watching them interact with each other and their friends. The year before, I spent a long weekend with my oldest and youngest, and this past weekend it was just me and my youngest. It was a real treat to be able to focus all my attention on just him, though I'm not sure how much he loved it.

5. Exploring new places.

Swim View

It's true that at most swim meets, you are either sitting on the bleachers, eating in some chain restaurant or hanging out in a hotel room. Thanks to swimming, I can navigate from pool to restaurant to hotel pretty easily in towns such as Cumberland, Annapolis, St. Mary's and Fairfax, Virginia. Every now and then, however, there's a little treat that makes all the difference. A few years ago, it was running on the C&O Canal Tow Path in the snow in Cumberland. This past Sunday, it was a short visit to Point Lookout in St. Mary's County between swim sessions. It was breathtaking. The wind had calmed, the sun was out and it felt warm even though the car thermometer read 37 degrees. We got out of the car and all I could see was sparkling water — real water, not pool water. Jonah and I explored the beaches, found a bunch of sea glass and just soaked in the beauty. It soothed my soul and gave me just what I needed to make it through one more swim meet weekend before this madness ends — at least for a month or so.

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FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Life editor Betsy Stein, who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 18, Lilly, 16, Adam, 16, and Jonah, 12.

 

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