First of all, let me tell you that my son is five. He's FIVE. And a young five at that -- not so much in age, but in maturity level and physical level. If you've been a reader for a long time, you know that Zack has had some major hurtles to jump at an early age, what with having to go to an Occupational Therapist for a year before he could get coordinated enough and strong enough to even climb a ladder to the slide or push a pedal on a tricycle. He's a little guy, only weighing 40 pounds (and that's after a growth spurt last month). So the fact that this awesome little boy, at age 5, could even qualify to join the private swim club here in Talbot County is amazing.
So let's give him a round of applause just for that, shall we?
(and the crowds go wild!!!!! rahhhhhhhhh!)
We started the season with a bang. The first meet wasn't a normal one but a HUGE invitational, with 12 teams and over 550 swimmers (plus parents). I volunteered to be an "Angel", which means I was responsible for getting Zack and another boy in the 6-and-under group to their event in time, and in the right heat order. While the swimmers were waiting for their event, they all camped out in the gym. Utter chaos. Here's what it looked like:
Utter chaos. So we finally found a place for Zack and I to sit:
The other boy that I was supposed to be watching out for was wonderful with Zack, and they played and shared my iPod (since I'd uploaded movies and such), and his mother was awesome at explaining things to me, the neophyte swim mom.
We got there at 11:30, and still wouldn't swim until about 2pm, so a snack and lunch was necessary:
And I know I've mentioned it before, but I can't believe how long I went without an iPod. I got mine last Christmas, and it's been a source of entertainment for me AND Zack.
Notice the marking on his arm? Those are a rule for all swimmers -- your event #, heat #, and lane # must be marked in Sharpie. And their name had to be marked on their back. In Sharpie. Which doesn't come off in the bath. That's ok, because he's quite proud of them.
Finally, his first event, freestyle, was called, and I got them to the Clerk of Course (fancy name for a group of chairs lined up so they have everyone in order). Here I thought it was a person. Zack was ready to get going....
I got the kids to the pool, and Zack had about five seconds to sit down before he was lined up to go. Swim meets happen FAST, with swimmers going off the deck bang, bang, bang, with very little time in between.
And then he was off for freestyle.
(Forgive the blurry photo, I haven't quite figured out how to take action shots yet.)
I need to work with him on his freestyle, because ever since he had croup a couple months ago, his breathing during this event has changed. Instead of turning his head for one breath, he turns his head for THREE. So that slows him up a lot. However, he did great, 47 seconds, which was still better than some six-year olds.
An hour or so later, he had his second event, backstroke. He has improved SOOOO much on his backstroke. He used to hate it, and would only swing his arms back every now and then, usually just dabbling his hands in the water and resting and such. I taught him how to do it, to envision it as freestyle, just on your back, so your arms have to go all the time, and so do the feet, and almost immediately, massive improvement and good speed.
What slowed him down this time is that no one has bothered to teach the little guys how to count off their strokes at the end. Once you pass under the last row of ribbons, you have to count off your strokes to know when you'll hit the wall (and Zack has hit that wall HARD so he's already shy about it). He was so fast, until he hit those last ribbons, and then he just used feet and held an arm behind his head to touch the wall. Even with that, he was again faster than some of the older kids.
The thing that makes me so incredibly proud of him is how he handled what are normally huge triggers for his Sensory Processing Disorder (or Sensory Integration Disorder). Usually, the huge crowds in the gym, the shrill sound of the starting horn, the cacophony of the crowds cheering, and the knowledge of someone in the lanes next to him would have made him collapse in tears. And indeed, right before the backstroke event, as we walked up to the starting spot, he was a little tearful and said, "I'm scared" -- but he pulled himself together in record time and was off like a flash in the water. Just that moment, his ability to gain control, was worth sitting on concrete for six hours. Swim meets are hours of waiting for 30 seconds in the pool -- but it is so worth it when you see the smile of pride at the end of the lane.