Swimming is one of those basic skills I feel all of my kids should have a handle on before they grow up and leave my care. We've done basic group lessons at the Y sporadically over the years, and my kids are comfortable in the water, but this last summer I decided I wanted them to have training in more specific strokes rather than just let them keep paddling around however. We ended up enrolling them in private lessons, and that worked out really well.
The Y was nice about letting us sign up for the regular blocks of time and then splitting that time up amongst our various kids. They each got at least two private lessons, and they advanced much more quickly than they would have in another group class.
The teacher was particularly impressed with Mona's abilities, and told me that she expected by the last lesson Mona would be ready for the Swim Team if she wanted to join. The Swim Team met at the same time in the evenings as our private lessons so we could see it in action in the next couple of lanes. All the kids were about Mona's age, happily doing laps and being coached by some young, energetic Y people. It looked fun, so I introduced the idea to Mona and let her think about it. She can be shy, so I knew it would need time to sink in before she'd consider giving it a go.
We're not a sports family. I understand some of the appeal of actually playing a sport yourself, but I don't relate to watching people you don't know play games. The closest I can get to understanding that is to compare it to hearing professional musicians perform. It's exciting to watch people do things really well, so I get that. It's the being emotionally swept up in something that ultimately I don't see the point of that, frankly, makes me nervous. There was a German teacher at my high school who would not attend the football pep rallies because the fervor of the crowds reminded her too much of Nazi rallies. That makes sense to me. I am often uncomfortable when an assembly of people becomes a unified crowd, and I don't want to lose myself in that unless it's for a greater purpose. Scoring points under an arbitrary set of rules doesn't qualify in my book. But I understand that it's important to others, and I would never begrudge someone that. People like what they like, and I accept I am in the minority in not liking sports. I just wish sometimes that people put half as much energy into important problems as they did into following professional games, and the world might be a much better place.
Anyway, since sports don't interest me personally, I've never pushed them on my kids. I offer regularly to sign them up for whatever they like if they want to try it, but they are reluctant joiners. If they wanted to play a sport I would certainly support them and I would have fun watching a game they are in, but it hasn't come up, and that's been fine with me.
Swim Team at the Y, though, has been my kind of sport, and I'm glad Mona decided to join. It meets four nights a week, and you can pick any two nights that work for you, and there is a meet once a month that's optional. Most of the time we go on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but if something comes up and we have to switch days we can and it's no big deal. Even though it's a "team," swimming is still about individual work and achievement, which is a good fit for Mona. The coaches are funny and nice. They play music at practice; people dance while they wait for their turns to dive. There is a lot of swimming and training and at the end of the hour there is usually a game of some kind (like Sharks and Minnows, or a timed obstacle course). It's a great time, the kids are happy, and Mona is doing really well. She's a strong swimmer and getting better every week.
For me it's been good because on Swim Team nights I do my daily laps in the evening while Mona's training. We end up going to the Y as a family: Ian works out in the gym upstairs, Aden and Quinn play in the smaller pool, and I can usually get in a mile and a half in my own lane while I watch Mona swim with her team. It's been a really nice routine to get into, and it even takes care of showers for all the kids a couple of times a week. I love Mona's Swim Team.
In terms of my own swimming I realized the other day that I've reached a sort of milestone. I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but getting my swimming (or some form of exercise) in has become a daily necessity. When I began swimming laps a few years ago I had to make myself get up and do it every day. If I was short on time because of an unusual project I didn't mind missing a day of swimming to do it. Now I work around the swimming. It's become not optional for me. The same way I simply assume I must get the kids to school or go to my job, I assume I will swim. When I don't swim, I feel it. I still resent the time it takes up, and I'm not pretending swimming a mile almost every day is easy, but the fact that it's no longer optional in my mind means I am likely to stick with it. Which is great, because exercise is important, whether you're into sports or not.
I'm trying to instill that in my kids, too. When they've been curled up with screens too long I tend to rouse them and declare we are going out to move our bodies around. Most of the time right now that means swimming at the Y, but sometimes it means kite flying or roller skating or biking or running around the park looking for fairy doors. I was the kind of person who could easily spend a whole day in one spot with a book, but now at some point I know I must move. I want my kids to have the same impulse to exercise both their bodies and their minds. I'm glad Swim Team has become a part of that equation.