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.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Final results are in from last week's meet. J did fine, a couple of rough patches, though. He picked up a blue ribbon in his division for Breaststroke and two 2nd place ribbons, one for relay and one for freestyle. He was entered into an IM again, but was disqualified. His times stayed essentially the same.

J had some friends visiting to cheer him on and thinks perhaps he let the pressure get to him. He knew, however, exactly when he made the mistake in the IM and looked directly at his mother when it happened. J hesitated and then finished his race. His dad was probably more disappointed than J but both parents were pleased, at least, that he could pick out his mistake and that he still finished his race.

The visiting team had a professional photographer with them and he chose to take a few pics of Jas wel l.

J has already embarked on a new week of practice but the team gets a break this week as there is not a scheduled meet. His practice so far, though, has been difficult, to say the least. The coaches are pushing the kids hard, not to win but progress and achieve personal goals. This morning, they had no rest time at the wall, and did backstroke and freestyle constantly for an hour. J came out of the water happy, but out of breath and tired.