When I was four years old I had annoyed my mother so much with my constant begging to join my big sisters on the swim team that she gave in and, rumour has it, tossed me in the pool to figure it out as the youngest member of the team.
Much of that “first time in the pool” story is family folklore, but my memories of the 14 years I spent as a member of the Oakview swim team are indelibly marked in my brain and on my heart as fact. I gained more from my time as a swimmer than any other sport’s team, club or organization I have been part of my entire life. I learned about hard work, persistence and humility. I learned about loyalty and friendship. I learned about growth from competing against my own times every week, and team work tracking our total points every meet because that’s what really mattered in the end. I learned to never give up when you’re the last leg of a relay and to believe if you just hold your breath long enough, kick your feet fast enough, and stretch your arms as far as they can go, miracles can happen.
When it came time for our own littles to swim, we tried hard not to push them into something they didn’t want. They were slow to learn specifics strokes and did not embrace the pool quite they way their father and I did as they had the ocean as an option too. Eventually, they all joined a team that is way less competitive than what I was used to, but no matter how laid back their meets are, they are all getting the same wonderful life lessons from their swim team and I am most happy about that.
Last week, I went to an event hosted by MomTrends highlighting the organization SwimToday. SwimToday works to promote swimming as a team sport. Not only did I get to meet my childhood (and adulthood, if I’m honest) hero Five-time Olympian Dara Torres, but I also heard some interesting things about swimming. Did you know that 80% of people who have their kids in swim lessons do not consider swimming as at team sport they’d sign their kids up for? What the heck?
Maybe it’s not convenient for all, or perhaps it’s not something mom and dad did so they don’t think of it for kids. These are valid reasons, but I would hate if people aren’t signing their kids up for swim team because they fear it’s not a good sport for kids. I’m here to tell you that it is. Yes, it can be competitive and consuming if you’re trying to get a college scholarship or make the Olympic team. But, for most of us, myself and my kids included, being on a swim team is an invaluable way to learn lessons about life and friendship and growth. Swimming is a skill you’ll never forget having. Being on a swim team is an experience that will shape you.
My youngest is proof of this. He struggles in school and has spent eight years as a square peg for life’s round holes. That is until he joined the swim team. Much to all our surprise, he did not fight us for one second about practice or meets. He jumped in, with two feet so to speak, and never looked back. He is part of a team and he struts across the pool deck with the confident step that his father and I pray for every night. Like his mom, that boy joined the swim team and found his wings. I wish every kid could get that same chance. Check out SwimToday’s website to find a team near your kid.
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