1. Get in your suit
2. Get in the water
3. Flail until you figure it out.
This is not a knock on my mother in any way. I'm sure trying to raise six kids was hard enough without making certain that each one had mad swimming skills. I remember her sending my step-father down to the water's edge once to help teach me some strokes. I was pretty hopeless though and likely the worst swimmer in the family. To the point where my sister Pat has dreamed on a number of occasions that I have died by drowning.
Well, I've made it this far. That's not to say I haven't been pulled out of a river's current on one occasion where I most certainly would have died.
Since then, I've become a much more competent flailer. I actually swim out to the island at our cabin every year. I use a combination of two strokes to get there. The first is a modified breast stroke and when I tire of that, I do a back float/push. Both are ungainly, but I make it every year, so maybe I don't give myself enough credit. (Imagine that.)
Anyhow, after about four weeks of practice, Ben had his first swim meet last week. We could tell he was nervous, and to top things off, he was the first swimmer in the first relay race to start the meet. The buzzer went off and...
He did an amazing job.
I was so proud of his effort that I had to shake off tears two or three times during the night. He was in four events and despite some rough turns and a grueling 100 yard backstroke race, he held his own.
When the 100 yard backstroke was over, he walked past us and said, "Pretty much the worst experience of my life, right there."
So it goes.
We had a talk at home after the meet and he fully understood that this was the worst race he'll ever have to swim. Not that it all gets easier from here, but at least he knows he can do it and now all he has to work on is endurance and technique. I fully expect him to stick with it through the season. He's no quitter. I saw that much at the meet. Plus he likes being part of a team.
I think we both recognized that this first race, this first meet is part of life. It's like that first job, that new school, that first dance, those first years as a parent. We all do them kind of badly, but they teach us how to do it all better the next time.