Monday, December 6, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Autumn Splash Event

Last Saturday, the Autumn Splash Event was held. And an event it was. The Chester Gators, J's team, hosted all of the other Ys in the area. It made for a very long day as there are about 10 teams in the league.

J's family arrived at the Y before 11:30 am and didn't make it home until 7 pm. The meet itself started at 1 pm. J was scheduled to swim in a mixed medley relay (he did backstroke), backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle and a freestyle relay. He seemed to hold up well through out the day and throughout his five events.

After the first relay, where J did backstroke for the team, his coaches called him over after he put his leg back on. They told him that his stroke was beautiful, he just needs to work on the turn at the wall. We laughed a bit when he told us what they said because he had talked all morning about how it was "too risky" to do the turn for backstroke so he wasn't going to attempt it yet in competition. More than likely, they will be working on backstroke turns this week at practice.

The other races went well, too. J dropped time in most of his events. He was put into faster heats this last weekend so he is swimming against older boys in his age group, but that makes him look slower. Fortunately, J is good at focusing on his own times. Although it's fun to win, too.

On to the next meet!

Monday, October 18, 2010

October 16, 2010

Another long day at the pool, but it was a good day.

J set new times for himself in each event, dropping time in every event he participated in. He chose again this week backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. He was also placed in a relay where he did breaststroke.

In the beginning of the season, J set a goal for himself to be below a certain time for freestyle. At last meet, he was about .9 seconds away from that goal. On Saturday, he was able to reach the goal. He was very excited and was not afraid to show is happiness with himself.

Also at the pool, we saw some friends from long ago. Early on, a guy from our church at the time "adopted" us and took the time and made the effort to help us with certain medical needs. He and his wife became very dear to us but as we felt strongly to leave that church, that friendship didn't follow. It was so good to see them on Saturday.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Well....the first meet of the new team and the new season has come and gone. It was a very long day but the more we are in the world of swimming, the more we love it. J did quite well and was pleased with himself.

At practice he was asked to fill out a sheet about his likes and dislikes about swimming. On that form there was a spot for him to set a goal for himself for the season (September through the middle of December). The Coach said that the goal could be absolutely anything. J decided to set a goal based on swimming and wrote down that he wanted to be below a certain time in his 50 m Freestyle.

J did not accomplish that goal on Saturday but it looks like he will at the next meet. He is .9 seconds away from doing so. He did well in his other events, too. He chose to compete in Freestyle, Backstroke and Breaststroke. Backstroke was the first event for him of the day and he heard the buzzer to start and sat at the blocks. The Starter was new and didn't start the boys off according to procedure, which threw J. He sat there for 2 full seconds before starting. Once he got going, he was able to catch up fairly quickly to the leader, stick with him until the end, when J put on some speed and won the heat! He certainly made it an exciting race for all of the spectators.

Being on a new team means that J is a new sight for his fellow swimmers. He has to kind of find his niche and hope for the best. He has found a couple kids that are quickly becoming friends. It also means that we get lots of curious questions. Curiosity is easy to handle. It's the nastiness that comes from the parents and the other swimmers. Already, we have had to defend him to other parents because he was doing things that their child isn't capable of doing yet. We watched glares and stares towards J as he walked around. And, we heard comments like, "I've never seen somebody so weird!" For anybody who ever reads this....an amputee is NOT weird. They are different. Inside, they have the same emotions and needs as your child or as yourself. J works hard to accomplish his goals in and out of the water. The coaches on this team teach the kids 4 character qualities. Two of them are RESPECT and KINDNESS. I'd like to see that extended to all swimmers and to all in society, regardless of issue or need.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fall Swimming

J has joined the fall swim team at the YMCA. He started practices this week. We chose to only do practice 2x per week instead of 4 days because we wanted to be sure we were doing the right thing.

The first day of practice was difficult. The team is stricter than he's used to and they work quite hard. He's only allowed to rest for 5 seconds, only at one wall unless they are getting instructions. They did lots of drills where he wasn't allowed to use his arms. This is difficult since his power is in his arms. Most swimmers, that we have seen, anyway, tend to have the power in their legs. Well, consider he doesn't have a full pair of legs, his arms are stronger.

The second day of practice, he came home with a huge smile on his face! His coaches opted to put a fin on his one foot. He went much faster and seemed to enjoy it. He won't be able to use the fin during a meet, just during practice. We've discussed this before with the coaches of the summer team but we never did it. He said that they worked hard and does seem to be a bit tired.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ashamed it's been over a year!

It has been over a year since we have sat down to update this blog. So long that I had to even uncover the correct e-mail and password!

J is still swimming. He finished the summer season having entered a new scoring tier, dropping significant amounts of time and eventually earning a 2nd place Silver Medal for backstroke at Championships. I do say "earned" because we sat at the pool each day for practices and he worked hard to accomplish this. When he started swimming, Joseph could barely make it down the lane with backstroke. Imagine his excitement when he finally received a medal in his division for this event! Plus, Joseph competes against children that would be considered "able-bodied". He has yet to compete against a fellow amputee.

Due to his love of swimming and how he really is happiest in a pool surrounded by chlorinated water, he begged for his room to be decorated in a swimming theme complete with dolphin accessories. Have we done this? Well....Grandma purchased him some bedding that looked like water....we have a picture up of Michael Phelps that was signed for J...and then it stopped. We hope to finish this soon. Part of the sabbatical was that suddenly J wasn't sure if he wanted lose all of his Spiderman decorations.

Also due to his love of the water, he asked to forgo a multi-disciplinary class at a local home-school center (http://theathenianacademy.com/) covering geography, public speaking, cultural studies, current events and, last but not least, being around fellow home-schooled friends for another swim team. This fall, J has signed up for the team at the nearest YMCA. They have a team for the fall and winter and swimmers have the option of doing both or one or the other. We opted for only the fall, just to be sure we are on the right path before committing too much of our time and money.

These team fees are costly for us, especially when combined with yearly prosthetic costs. Thanks to Grandma, he has paid his fees in full. We still need to purchase the team suit when it becomes available. But, we strive to make it a reality. J actually asked if he could help pay for some of his fees starting in January. Due to this, we have been searching for fundraisers that he could execute to help build some of the fees. I'm nervous about this, but am willing to help him. He has already stepped up his chores in the hopes of earning additional money. I'm open for suggestions to accomplish this. I am happy and I do encourage him to take on some of the responsibility.

Friday, July 24, 2009

After a hiatus of blogging, we are back. The young man we have been learning about, J, has still been swimming. The team took a week break from competition, still had practice, and we have had two meets since the last post.

J is making strides as we finish up the summer season. Only one week of practice left and then championships. We enjoy watching him meet new goals. Two weeks ago, although he had a grandmother visiting and really wanted to impress her, his swimming did improve technically but his time stayed relatively the same. He did lose some seconds, but not across the board in all of his events like he normally does. His grandmother was able to see him swim in a relay, in freestyle, breaststroke and an IM, earning red and white ribbons in his division (divisions are based on age and times). Regardless what J does or doesn't do, grandma is always one of his biggest cheerleaders.

J then admitted that he hasn't been kicking while he swims. This was stunning news to his parents. This led to the biggest question, What would he be doing if he was kicking? And, it also begged them to ask, Why are you not kicking? The answer to the first question remains to be seen fully. The second question, though, was answered. J decided that kicking was useless and so he wanted to experiment as to what would happen if he didn't. His coaches laughed, deciding that only J would experiment like that and still have it be beneficial. But, they also worked on kicking drills for the whole week....with the whole team.

Although the official times have not come in for the most recent meet, J had an excellent evening last night. The plan was for Joseph to swim in a relay, breaststroke, IM and butterfly. He was able to complete all but the butterfly and that was because of lightening and the meet was called. His team was winning at the time it was called. J, was winning, too.

His relay won the heat, with J as the anchor doing freestyle. He literally kicked his leg hard then. We think they won in the age group in this event, but we are not sure yet as the parents are unable to remember how many heats there were in that event.

J came in third for his breaststroke, dropping a few seconds. One of his best swim team friends came in second and both sets of parents were pleased when they reached across the lane lines and shook hands with each other.

The big news of the night was the IM. He dropped behind a bit in the first leg, then he actually caught up and began to take around his biggest opponent with the backstroke. All without putting in any true power. He slowed again on the Butterfly leg, touching the wall after his biggest opponent by several moments. But that's when the change occurred. His opponent began to tire. J had just begun to swim. And he did swim. And he kicked like never before on his freestyle. J's dad was timing the opponent and his mom was at the end of the pool cheering with all of the little girls that seem to have taken a liking to him. Other mothers were on the pool sides. Joseph's timers were cheering, louder than his mom. And he won the heat by just a few 10ths of a second! He didn't even realize what he had done until they handed him the heat winner ribbon. The other mothers including the timers jumped up and down some. His mom had tears in her eyes. It was the best swim he had done and it had paid off. We think he won the age division but more than that, he dropped about 13 seconds off of his previous time.

That's the "thing" in swimming. Yes, there is a competition to an extent, but it is mostly about personal times and beating yourself from a previous time. It is fun to swim against somebody and get the heat winner ribbons, but you have a greater sense of accomplishment when you have done something within in yourself to be proud of.

The team has their banquet this Sunday where awards will be handed out, one week of practice and Championships on the weekend. Suddenly the summer swim team season is coming to a close. The family is feeling a bit of let down; J is, however, excited to sleep in again.