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FranklyStein: Just keep swimming

Adam 1650My 12-year-old son blew me out of the water last weekend.

Up until November, it was a real bear getting him to swim team practice. Swimming wasn’t his favorite. He’s a tad lazy and swimming is hard. This is his fifth year on our YMCA swim team, and he has never been into it. Over the years, there have been times when he’s tolerated going to practice and others when he’s totally refused to go. He likes the summer swim team but is no fan of winter swim. Don’t ask me how we’ve convinced him to sign up each year. I’ve often regretted that decision.

This swim season started out no differently. It took bribing and arm twisting to get him to practice in the fall. We only required one practice a week but it was hard. The coach had stepped it up a notch, and Adam didn’t like it. But somewhere in the middle of moaning that he hated it, he decided to sign up to swim a 500 at a meet in December. That’s 20 laps. I was a little surprised. I told him he’d need to swim at least twice a week for two weeks before that meet if he wanted me to pay for the entry and, surprisingly, he agreed.

Sometime before the 500, he decided he wanted to swim a 1650 at a meet in Cumberland at the end of January. No 12-year-old had ever swum that event (66 laps!) so if he finished, he’d get the team record. He’s a big talker so I didn’t put a lot of stock in his plan, but if it kept him going, it was fine with me.

After he completed the 500, he was on a high. He was so proud of himself for swimming the event. It felt good. You could see it on his face. He stopped complaining so much about going to practice. One week, he even went to practice three times — a first in his winter swimming career. I was shocked.

And he kept talking about the 1650. Only once did he waiver from his goal. He was tired and started complaining about practice one night, and when I mentioned the 1650 he said: “Mom, you and I both know I’m never going to swim that.” In my heart, I agreed, but I never said it out loud. And he went to practice that night anyway.

That was the only time he said he wasn’t going to swim the 1650. He kept talking about it, and he kept going to practice and when it came time to sign up for Cumberland, he put his initials next to that event. So I signed him up. The big day was Jan. 26.

Then last week got ugly. One by one the kids got sick. Then two of them got lice. (Jinxed myself with last week’s Would You Rather blog). And the weather on Friday looked less than ideal for driving to Western Maryland. But he insisted we were going. He was going to get to that meet if it killed him. Friday morning, he woke up with a fever, but he was undeterred and insisted he felt fine by the afternoon.

So despite snow, lice, sickness and a past hatred of winter swimming, Adam found himself on the block Saturday afternoon ready to embark on a swim even my kids who love swimming have never attempted. He was just a tad bit nervous but otherwise ready. I was bowled over. I have to admit I never really believed he would do it. He’s a little bit lazy, after all.

But he did do it. When the gun went off, he dove into the water and just kept swimming at a comfortable but confident pace. Just over 26 minutes later, he finished with a big smile on his face. He had swum a 1650. He set a goal and made it happen.

I am so proud of my team record holder.

Read more FranklyStein here.

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FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 14, Lilly, 12, Adam, 12, and Jonah, 8.


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