June 1, 2015

Transition Hiccups

In a month and a half, our family will have been in our new location, five hours from what we all knew as home, for a year. After an initial adjustment period, for the most part, life has just continued on. The girls have adjusted to their new schools. We’ve made the house our own. We’ve started to venture out in our new surroundings to find our new favorite places and things to do. We’ve all made some new friends. I was warned by several swimming friends that the swimming transition might be the worst one, that a new club and new coaches would take a year to settle into for the girls. I expected that and prepared the girls for it the best that I could.

I didn’t worry about Sassy as much; her outgoing personality always seems to break the ice. After practicing so hard all year long, Sassy began to get her “BB” times and get hungry for more. When she realized how close she was getting to “A” times, she got even more motivated. This past weekend, she swam her very first “A” time in the 50 back, something she didn’t expect that she would do until she turned 10. Despite being the one in our family most vocal about not wanting to move, she has made the swimming transition look easy. A transition at 8 is easier than a transition at 13.

Because I know this, I worried more about Swim Girl, whose quiet and more introspective personality can be more easily misinterpreted by others. I also worried because her relationship with our previous club’s coach was such a strong one. He understood how she was feeling during a practice or after a race, without her having to say a word. He knew her well enough to know that she is a rule-follower and would never skip part of a set to appear faster than someone else. He knew that yelling at her was not the way to motivate her, and that it sometimes took a while for certain things to really sink in. She didn’t believe in shortcuts, and she proved that with her work ethic over the 4.5 years he coached her. He also knew how far she had come and how hard she had worked to get where she is today. Swimming didn’t come naturally to her when she started; but she had the love for the sport that others didn’t always possess. Despite coming in last and getting disqualified, she wanted to work harder and get better. She didn’t give up. She pushed herself and she achieved. It’s this history that her current coaches don’t know, and that she’s too shy and intimidated to share with them.

At the beginning of the short course season this year, Swim Girl was stagnant with her times. But over time, she began to drop her times across all her strokes. She went from a 2:28 in 200 back to a 2:15; from a 1:02 in 100 free to a 56; from a 5:53 in 500 free to a 5:32; from a 1:17 in 100 breast to a 1:12; from a 2:43 in 200 breast to a 2:35; from a 2:28 in 200 IM to a 2:19. Long course season started off with her swimming an Age Group Champs cut in the 1500 the very first time she swam it. The hiccup with her times didn’t last very long at all. She set a goal for herself, that she wanted to qualify for SCY Age Group Champs and make a Senior Champs cut (despite the times being more challenging to get in this state). She did both. One would think her confidence would be soaring, but it’s not.

It’s been good for her to be at a club with so many great swimmers her age. It has taken some of the pressure off, so that she’s been able to just concentrate on her technique and her times. She’s made some very good friends at our new club. But she has some lofty swimming goals she’s shared with me that she’s too afraid to share with her coach. She has questions she wants to ask about how to fix things that stay inside her head instead. She shuts down and stays quiet when she gets yelled at for going too slow, rather than ratting out those who skipped out on part of a set. So many of these kids have been with these coaches for years. They have the kind of relationships with them that she had back home with hers. She’s starting from scratch; and I can tell that it’s bothering her. They don’t know her history and she’s not quite sure how to establish a good relationship without that. As her parent, I feel like I need to help her; but I’m also wary of becoming “that parent,” and feel that at 14, she needs to take the initiative to speak up and communicate with her coach without my interference. I just hope that I can get her to start speaking up.

These are the things that make me miss the easiness that used to be home. In some ways, I’m glad we have an upcoming trip to go back and visit; but I’m also worried that the trip will just make us miss home that much more.

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