Jay started swimming on a team because he saw other kids practicing with a team coach while he was still learning to blow bubbles. He watched them and told me he wanted to do what they were doing. "Then you've got to put your face in the water. All the way in the water," I told him.
And he eventually did get over his fear of submerging his face and the rest of his body into 4 feet of water, because he wanted to do what the other kids were doing. Once he learned to swim across the length of the pool, he told me he was ready to join a team. I had no idea what joining a swim team or being a competitive swimmer entailed, other than the few tales of water-obsessed parents, but they didn't sound any crazier than the soccer-moms and basketball-dads that I already knew. Just a different and wetter crazy, but on the same level.
That was four years ago and Jay has been swimming ever since. He's won, tied, come in last, been disqualified, cheered, cried, set goals, tried harder, tried again. He's learned to take pride in his accomplishments and set new goals to do even better. He encourages his team-mates and celebrates their wins or commiserates over their losses. He's pulled his sister into swimming with him and encourages her. He knows when he's been goofing off and when he's really put in some work. He appreciates the coaches who invest their efforts and is learning (still learning) not to waste their time by not putting in his own hard work. He's learned so much more than just how to properly churn his arms and kick his legs to execute the perfect butterfly.
And this year, he did win that High Point award - the swimmer who has earned the most wins and points for his team this season. And he's learned to be proud, yet still humble.
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