When we first signed up for the Orcas four years ago, I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Looking back I wouldn’t change anything. If you are considering joining a Marin Swim League team you might want consider the following.
The scariest thing about being the parent of a swimmer is the volunteer commitment. In the case of the Orcas this year it’s seven commitments, and that seems like a lot but it literally takes a small village to run a swim meet, some 100 volunteers. The way I see it if you are going to be there anyway watching your child swim you may as well be helping out. You set a good example for your child by volunteering too.
People may find this hard to believe but I’ve actually enjoyed my volunteer commitments. The first year I helped with lining up the 8 & Under swimmers, which was a great way to get to know the kids. I’ve also done snack bar, swim meet set-up, take-down and served pasta on Pasta Power nights. Volunteering makes me part of the Orca experience, and I’m confident that years from now my kids will remember and appreciate the effort. Or at least I’d like to think so.
Now that my older daughter is 10 years old, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. She already wants to be independent of me. She loves me, but she needs her space. The problem with that space is how it becomes filled. If I don’t have her in an organized activity after school and on Saturdays who knows how she’ll end up spending her time. I know what I did in my teenage years, and I can safely say being on a swim team would have been a far better use of my time.
I honestly believe being on a swim team grooms kids to be more successful in life. My daughters acquire physical and mental discipline through swimming. Nobody has ever mistaken me for a disciplinarian, so I appreciate what they are learning through hard work and practice with the swim team. The more they put into swimming, the better they get, and the results are tangible. It’s a great life lesson.
Last year a parent I know had his son on the team for the first time. By the end of the season the boy had gained so much muscle that he signed up to swim again. If you child could use regular exercise, and who couldn’t, you might want to consider joining your local swim team. I know my daughters will always get back into a pool when they want to get in shape, and that’s a priceless gift.
I also like the fact that swimming is a relatively safe sport, unless of course your child does not know how to swim. Then again that makes it all the more important to join a team. Like my good friend and Patch blogger Tim Bell said, “I’ll never have to worry about my kids around water.”
Blake Thompson, one of the county’s best swimmers last year, joined the Orcas two years ago. At the time trials, the first event of the season that sets benchmark times, Thompson didn’t make it across the pool. Imagine how proud we all are of him, and how magical it’s been watching him go from unable to swim across the pool to being one of the best in the county.
In my daughter Skylee’s first Orca season when she was seven years old there were meets where she looked like she was drowning as she thrashed her way across the pool. The following year she too became very good. It was because he practiced regularly, and when she didn’t her times didn’t improve.
Being on a swim team teaches kids when they try hard and practice regularly they will get better at whatever they do. It’s a fundamental, invaluable lesson and I’m glad my daughters are learning it now instead of later in life.