Home Stretch

Skylee’s last regular season meet went exceptionally well. It was her best meet of the year! All year our mantra has been, “It’s not how you start the year, but how you end it,” and Skylee has continued to get better every week. She got first places in both the breaststroke and IM. She beat a breaststroke swimmer on the other team with a comparably fast best time coming into the meet. A best time in the IM allowed Skylee to beat swimmers who were faster coming into the meet. She also took third in freestyle, again beating two swimmers with prior better times, again with a best time of her own. It turns out Skylee has become a really good game day competitor.

Skylee’s practices had been poor leading up to the meet. Her times were way off, but she had also been hindered with the cough that had been going around. It has been one of those lingering things. Skylee’s cousin also had the cough and it really impacted her competitive running times recently. I believe as a result of the cough Skylee was unable to get a best time in the breaststroke.

As of this writing, now five days from the final event of the season, the Marin Swimming League Championships, it seems that the breaststroke team record is realistically unattainable. Skylee would have needed to drop her time in the last meet, and instead her time was actually slower. All week during practices her times were two seconds slower that her best, and I was wondering if she was going to be able to win her heat. I’m extremely proud of how she has performed: my daughter is a gamer!

The big surprise was that she got a 1:42 time in the IM, dropping two seconds from her previous best time. Skylee was close with her competitors in the race and somehow she was able to find a faster gear on the last leg to pull ahead while the competition actually seemed to slow to the finish. I think the results have everything to do with her conditioning, despite the cough, and her desire. She catches glimpses of swimmers close to her and turns it on.

So this is it. We are now entering the home stretch after the July 4th weekend leading up to the July 10th Championships. The plan is pretty simple. If Skylee wants to do double sessions she is welcome to, otherwise she can just do singles. What we ended up doing leading up to and after the last meet, which worked very well, was going to practice early and having Skylee do free swimming for 30-60 minutes. So it was like a double practice time wise without the pressure of practicing twice. She’s welcome to do that this week, or she can do two consecutive practices with the team. It would have been best for her times if she wanted to practice in the morning and evening, but that only happened once this year. She complained that the pool was too cold in the morning. We also held her out of a day of practice last week because of the cough, and now the cough is almost gone.

It will be interesting to see how Skylee responds this week. Yesterday I did some research on competitor times. A few of the fastest 8 and under girls seem to have aged up, having competed in the 9 & 10 groups during the last meet. Other slower girls got faster. So it looks like Skylee’s times have her as 6th in the county in both IM and breaststroke. That’s an incredible way to finish the regular season. I had no idea she would be this good coming in.

Ultimately I believe I’d be just as proud of Skylee if her times were in the middle or at the bottom of the league. The fact is that she
has tried very hard and her work has paid off, a valuable life lesson. Now Skylee has her sights set on a big trophy, for the most points scored at the Championships for 8 & under girls on our team. Her good friend won the trophy last year and it’s been a great motivator throughout the season. She’s going to be in close competition with another good friend for the trophy. Both girls have been working very hard. One of the two is going to get the trophy, one is not.

So this week it’s time for a new lesson in the pool. I want Skylee to know that it’s okay to not be the top swimmer, as long as she gives her best shot and tries hard. Trophies are nice to have, but more important are the memories made along the way. Getting or not getting a trophy is only one part of what has been a very successful journey, and none of us could have hoped for Skylee to do better than she has all year. It’s amazing she is where she is right now, and getting in this position has been far more important than any trophy or team record.

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