The triplets started swim team two weeks ago.
They are finally age eligible and have talked about it for months.
I forked over the money for the registration, team swimsuits, and goggles, and finally the day arrived. We knew the water would be cold and had done some refresher swimming the weekend before in our own chilly pool. Several neighbors we knew would be on our team and the kids couldn’t be more excited.
Until their first 25 meters.
Those are long laps for adults, so they are particularly challenging for five year olds. We’ve taken lessons periodically over the years in our own pool, but more for survival than form. Little bit seemed to be rocking it. She was faster than both the boys and had a buddy swimming just before her who encouraged her. The boys struggled. The baby particularly – because of his history with asthma he’s never been able to hold his breath as long as the other two. The eldest can hold his breath all day long, in fact he must have gills, but he’s very slow. This is not just in swimming mind you, this is in life. He moves to his own pace; a pace akin to an elderly turtle or molasses.
Swim team practice is from 4 to 4:45, and by 4:30 both the baby and little bit were out. I mean adamantly voicing their desire to quit swim team. Little bit caught me off guard because she was so good, but I realized after a few minutes that she was protesting because it was HARD. Things come easy to her. She’s the most athletic and she’s normally fairly well-behaved, so things tend to be easier for her than the boys. The idea of struggling to go back and forth after a few laps primed her to quit. The baby on the other hand had actually struggled, and he burst into tears when I informed him we weren’t quitting. They both refused to swim the last lap.
The eldest, on the other hand, got out after next to last lap and moved to the FRONT of the line to power through the final lap. He was unstoppable. Slowly, deliberately, he got himself to the other side and beamed at me as he climbed out. He was NOT quitting. He was coming back.
I admire this child’s tenacity.
The reality is, right now, he’s the least athletically inclined. He’s tall and lanky and hasn’t figured out how to get his limbs to all work together. But he pursues athletics, as far as I can tell, so he can improve. He took soccer this spring, the only one of the three, even though he’s not as fast or coordinated as the other two. He’s begging to take gymnastics with little bit in the fall even though he can’t flip to save his life and she tumbles circles around him.
He keeps going TO GET BETTER. He fiercely clutches with both fists when it gets hard. He doesn’t quit.
When we received his mid season soccer progress report, the coach praised him for being a role model for his friends and for showing good sportsmanship.
He’s the only one of the three who encourages other players when playing board games and doesn’t storm off if he loses a few in a row. Even in the face of criticism, he holds his head up and keeps going.
He LOVES the game. He loves playing. Even in the face of hard.
He’s not impenetrable, mind you. He comes home sad because he was the slowest, or remarks in our pool when he doesn’t win the races. He notices when he’s not the best. But it doesn’t stop him from persisting.
He is a living role model in our home of how we should tackle life. Life is hard sometimes. We may be completely exhausted or the last one to cross the finish line. But we must keep at it, get better, and enjoy playing.
I have no doubt that one of these days my sweet, strong, persistent boy will be the strongest athlete in the bunch just because of his tenacity.
I don’t know what “swim team” you have facing you this week, but if my eldest could give you a tip, he’d say, Keep Playing.
P.S. Remarkably, in barely 24 hours, swim team turned around. They’re all enthusiastic now and have already dramatically improved in their swim strength and style. (It pays to hang in there. Thanks buddy for the life lesson.)