Saturday, September 15, 2007

Recap and Finale

Swim team is done. For Katherine at least.

The SAISA Travel Team (more on that later) still has 2 weeks before Colombo so they continue with their training. Katherine can finally relax after the Big Bad Blue meet at AISC today.
But wait, there's more.
We sent her off to the meet at 7:15 with our neighbor, also a swimmer, for warm-up. We got there at 9:45 after Rebecca's and Ian's tennis lessons. The meet started at 9 but we figured she wouldn't be in the first races and we were right. In fact, we were so right... she hadn't been put in any races. She wasn't even on the list. Her coach was going to "squeeze her in" where she could. Don't even get me started on how wrong that was even if it was an oversight. So, Katherine was in 4 races. The 50m free, the 200m relay medley, the 200m free relay and the 100m breaststroke. Only 2 teams raced in her age/sex category for the medleys, she got "medals" for being part of those teams. They came in last, but medals were given out to 6th place, so... whatever. The 50m was a wash, and we all knew it would be. She doesn't have a good free stroke yet. But for the 100m breast, there were 6 swimmers in her heat split between 3 fast and 3 slow. It was a great race to watch because the last 3 were neck and neck. Katherine came in 4th in the heat! It was so nice because she finally didn't come in dead last by half a pool. So award time came and we were so excited. They give out 6th to the kid who came in last in her heat... then they give 5th... then 4th... then 3rd.... 2nd... 1st... Katherine got nothing. So after the awards ceremony I asked the coach if she'd been disqualified for something. She said no, just that she'd come in 7th. I said there was no way, the kid who got the 6th place ribbon came in 2 spots -after- Katherine! She said Oh Yeah... that's right... there must have been something messed up with the timing.. we'll look into it.
I swear... this swim season was supposed to be something great for Katherine. She'd get better, faster, stronger... and she has. But I didn't expect that to come along with an ego and spirit crushing. And I can't help being paranoid. That because I pulled Katherine from the team when she didn't make the "Travel Team" (which isn't really, because even the kids who didn't "make" the travel team are expected to, uh, travel, and swim.. but not against kids their own age group... kids in HIGHER age groups... you know because that's a great idea when they didn't cut it to swim against their OWN age group), that somehow Katherine doesn't warrant consideration any more. Like I said, I'm being paranoid.
This season left a sour taste in my mouth. Say she made the Travel Team, she goes. Say she doesn't, she stays. It's quite simple. If everyone goes, there is no Travel Team. The whole team travels. There's a difference. It's my understanding that there are SAISA standards to be on a true SAISA team and if you don't make it, you don't make it. I get that, I accept that, and guess what... so does Katherine. She'd have something to work for next fall again. But this wishy washy thing is for the birds.
Kinda feel I need to add something else. I totally get how kids don't have to win everything, they can't and in fact they shouldn't. Katherine was quite pleased to get her medals in the relays, absolutely, and any placement in any other race would also have made her happy! Cutting seconds off her own time also brought a smile to her face, placement or not. A lot of work went into her swimming before Big Bad Blue, and like anyone else, kids expect to have their efforts rewarded. Personal accomplishment is great and it's what we all aim for but you know sometimes it's great to have general recognition too. Heck, when she was one of the 7 people who lasted the longest with their butt on a huge block of ice she was tickled. Frozen, but tickled.
But to put kids into places where they CAN'T win? And sell it solely as swimming against yourself, getting your personal best times, etc... well, that's great. Except this isn't hanging out in your backyard pool, it's racing internationally against 7 or 8 other schools! Who -ever- wants to be that last kid over and over and over again at home and then do it in front of 100+ other swimmers plus their parents?
Some kids can separate the two. I know Katherine could but it would mean me sitting there by the pool (which we would anyway and were yesterday) to explain to her after every heat and race how it doesn't matter that she lost by a mile but that she beat her personal best by 2 seconds. She loves to swim but no matter how you sell a swim meet, it's still a meet and kids still want to win. Or beat out someone... anyone... just once. And get recognized for it.

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