Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Recap: Swim Team

The Swim Team Season just wrapped up, but it officially begun at the tail end of May.

Our swim team is fantastic (this is our second year). The Head Coach Eric stresses improvement and sportsmanship/team spirit over anything else. He has Assistant Coaches (five of them, either high school or college age) who are wonderful, and a few Junior Coaches who are middle school age (more like helpers; this is a little odd, b/c E is the same age, but it's fine.) Practices while school is in session are in the evenings (we typically don't start practicing until school is over, it's too hard to fit in for us) and once summer starts, it's 8 am every weekday except Thursdays.

Elena and Vivian practice at the same time (for now). Viv practices with her age/skill group (mid/fast 8 year olds), and Elena practices with the inexperienced 8-and-unders. E would like to practice with her own age group, but she would absolutely clog up the lane (and could possibly get hurt) because every other swimmer in the crowded pool (all lanes) is 4x faster than she swims, and has more endurance. Elena knows this, and has a pretty good attitude about it. She acknowledges that she is well-challenged practicing with the youngest swimmers, and she has the opportunity to get more individual instruction time. It's hard on me sometimes b/c E isn't as independent without her shoes and braces, but honestly, she's really improved on her poolside mobility. For practice, she wears her water shoes (I like this type) and she can walk well with crutches and can take steps (while wet or dry) without. She enters the pool by the steps (with rail) and takes off her water shoes (leaves them there) and gets in to swim. Reverse on the way out. If she's cold, she needs assistance--but that's typically only at the beginning of the swim season. And, while she doesn't do it at practice, she can now jump in the pool safely from the side edge (one hand on a rail or ladder)!

Elena used to swim only two events; freestyle and backstroke. Her backstroke is seriously slow, and she doesn't love it. Her freestyle has really improved! She is stronger now, and can kick (it's inefficient for propulsion, but can keep her from sinking) and can take breaths on either side during her stroke. She used to curl her head around while pulling hard and fast--imagine her making a ) or ( with her body at every stroke--which ended up wasting a lot of energy, but now she is much straighter in the water. Her goal was to get her 50 free under 2 minutes (her home pool is a yard pool, so that's our reference measurement). She also wanted to get a legal breaststroke, which I thought might be hard if her feet "flip in" (she doesn't have great ankle strength/awareness to remedy this) but her feet/spasticity happen to work with breaststroke--so this goal was in reach.

Meets are on Wednesday nights, and the kids swim 2-4 events (Vivian usually swims more events b/c she swims on a relay team). I am allowed by her lane with the timers, as Elena can't get out on the side of the pool without a ladder (it's hard, but I pull her up under her arms so she is sitting on the edge of the pool. She then swings her legs out, and I help her stand and walk away). Everyone is supportive, and cheering, and congratulating each other on their swims. It's wonderful.

We were gone for 2 weeks on summer vacation, but this year we were in town for Champs. It's where all the teams in the league (all 3 divisions, so there are 18 teams) compete. Vivian dove for the first time (off the block, which is pretty scary for her) and Elena reached both of her goals, with her 50-yd conversion time of 1:58 and the best 50m breaststroke of her life!! Vivian's freestyle relay won a fancy ribbon! Elena also won a special award for Perseverance, which is new this year. Amid all the 18 teams, she won for outstanding achievement. It was awesome!

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