My kids learned the basics of freestyle from Donnie and I for their triathlons they did two summers in a row. I mean, the VERY basics. We tried to put them in a swim team during winter at the Y 2-3 winters ago, but the coach just started out: “DO 50 of the BREASTSTROKE!” type commands because they were too old to be taught the strokes which happened at a younger age so we bailed almost immediately. I had a friend of mine work with them one day, teaching them the basics of each stroke, and while that kinda helped get them through before we decided to bail she told me, “Wesley has some great natural ability if he can get more instruction.”
Then, last summer we joined a pool AND we went to my nephew’s city swim meet. Those two things combined made Wes show an interest in swim team. So, this summer we took my friend’s comments to heart, crossed our fingers, and signed him up.
I made sure everyone knew he was a newbie because, for his age group, he was an anomaly. Most kids his age (10) had been swimming since they were between 5 and 7…so 2-4 seasons. Since I’ve been in Knoxville so much with my Mom, I haven’t been able to see every practice, but I have been around enough of them to know he’s been making HUGE strides since the first day. As far as I knew he hadn’t learned a flip turn yet though, and he was nervous about that coming up on his first swim meet.
Well, last night was the first meet and short story: HE DID GREAT.
I watched the first event (50 free/medley) from the concession stand which is where I was working and I had convinced myself I was watching the wrong lane because A) he was first to touch the wall at the halfway point and B) he did a flip turn! Now, he lost his lead on the second length but we think if he cleaned up his flip turn a bit and improved his start dive timing (he was the last one in the water) he could jump a few spots easy! I mean, the best thing about being new is there’s room to improve!
The second event (50 back) I missed (boo!) but Donnie videotaped it and – again – he was with the 2nd place winner pretty tight until the flip-turn (he’s doing it, but not perfectly) and until he ran into the rope because he’s not great and directional on his back. But even with those two mistakes he stayed with the 2-4th place swimmers pretty closely. (The first place was WAY ahead.) So he has room to improve a LOT and could maybe jump a spot or two at some meets!
I was bracing myself for him to be dead last most of the season so all of this has been SO reassuring! And it was shocking since I’ve missed so many practices so I haven’t seen the transitional phases. It was just a night of lowering anxiety which is a rare thing in my life. I can say, “Oh! I can stop worrying about that!” pretty confidently which is a good day in my world.