The park near my home where I’ve been walking Waffles.
I have two big changes in my “new normal.” One, because our city pool hasn’t opened up yet, I finally dove into our backyard pool to swim. It’s too short to do more than ten strokes, so I ordered a swim bungee cord that connects to a velcro strap that goes around my waist. It took me a day or two to figure out this is really good exercise — although I don’t swim as long as I would at Masters in the city pool. When you swim against the bungee, it’s resistance training and I get really sore!
I’ve done five days of swimming and I’m making progress. My back and arms are killing me. I should have started this 88 days ago, but hey I’m doing it now! When I take off the contraption, I feel free like I can fly through the water. This has to be good for me in addition to my daily walks.
The second big change comes tomorrow. My girl and Waffles the pug have decided to return to their lives in the Bay Area. I do know this is for the best but wow. I am going to miss them both. I’m getting a little teary-eyed at the thought.
One of the blessings of this horrific pandemic has been the time we got to share together while sheltering in place. It gave us time together for several months that I doubt would have ever happened without COVID-19. I’m happy for her to move on with her life, but yes, I’m going to miss her and Waff.
Waffles on my lap. I’m going to miss this good boy!
First the good news. Things are opening up a little bit in our county and my daughter and I played tennis two mornings in a row. Prior to this week, the tennis courts were padlocked. I found that almost as annoying as the pool being closed. It looks so wrong to see padlocks and yellow tape wrapping around our park, parking lots, playground equipment, etc.
Before we became a full-on swim family, my kids took tennis lessons. My daughter was at preschool at the time and two of her good friends were taking lessons with her. My son had his buddies in his group as well. The instructor was a big goofy tennis pro who the kids called “Charlie Farlie.”
I took lessons in high school with my mom at the University of Washington, some sort of fun extension class. It was in the Hutchinson gym and there were huge windows up several stories in height. My mom and I both managed to hit the ball out those windows — several times — and we weren’t even trying! I’m mentioning this because my daughter and I do have some sort of background in tennis, although we’re hardly proficient at it.
Hutchinson Hall where my mom and me took tennis. t
Fast forward to when we decided to homeschool my daughter for middle school. We had several homeschool families on the swim team and I envied their schedules. There were no late nights after practice completing pages of math problems or filling out worksheets for them. These homeschooled kids were really smart, well behaved and looked so happy. So we gave it a whirl. We went through a phase where we started our day with a bike ride around the park, played tennis together and then returned home to hit the books.
This week brought me back to those days. We had fun reminiscing about them and laughed at our bad shots while enjoying the cool mornings. I got a better workout than I do walking around the park. I got my heart rate up because my tennis is mostly running to corners of the court to pick up balls.
Now for the bad news. The city may not open up the pool. It’s been closed since shelter in place began 55 days ago. I was going to write a letter to the city to complain when our team was no longer allowed to use the pool, but individuals could lap swim. By the time I was composing my scathing letter, the pool had closed altogether.
Our town’s main industry is tourism. The hotels have been shuttered along with vacation rentals for two months. There’s no way to enjoy our beautiful weather, golf courses, tennis courts and hiking trials unless you are a resident. That means the city budget is devastated. Along with the pool, the city is talking about closing the library, animal shelter and cutting salaries, too.
We have one of the most gorgeous pools in state. Our Piranha Swim Team has a history of more than 50 years — one of the longest running teams in California. The kids who go through the program can swim in college if they choose. I think our success rate of kids going on to the next level is close to 90 percent. It was the single best thing we did for our kids in terms of activities. They were Piranhas from age five until they went to college. My daughter represented Piranhas in the summer after she went to college. I can go on and on about how great the team was for my kids, and now for me as a swimmer, too. It helped develop their healthy lifestyles, competitive spirits, and their character.
It’s a milestone day. I seriously thought this was only going to last for 40 days and 40 nights. That seemed reasonable and I thought if Noah could last that long confined to an ark with a bunch of smelly animals, then we could do the same in our home, with one cat and a pug.
But here we are on day 50 and there’s really no end in sight. Except they may open the tennis and pickle ball courts. But I don’t play those sports. No word about the city pool or when my team will be back in the water. I hear that retail is opening up for curbside pick up. But when you’re not going anywhere — what does anyone really need?
On the bright side, we’re saving a ton of money on gasoline, dry cleaning and nail and hair appointments.
Views of Mt. San Jacinto from my neighborhood walk.
I’m walking 10,000 steps a day. Other highlights are riding bikes, kicking in our backyard pool and playing the occasional game of smashball in the water. I’m also reading, writing and watching music documentaries. That’s my week in a nutshell. It’s not a bad life. It’s just weird to walk with a face mask and feel like I’m taking my life in danger every time I go to the grocery store or post office.
Some days I’m motivated and have lots of ideas and make lists of what I want to accomplish. Other days, not so much.
I found a pirate hiding in the bushes!
Any idea of how many days this shelter in place will last? Are things opening up in your area? What are you busy doing during these strange days?
Two years ago, I wrote this about my morning walks post knee surgery. It was a long struggle to get back to normal. Now, I’m hobbling around the park and neighborhood — again. This time the injury isn’t as dramatic as a ski accident, but instead is me stubbing my toes against the tub and furniture, repeatedly! A little clumsiness has made my normal activities a challenge. Is that pathetic or what? I desperately need my walks during this “shelter in place” so I haven’t stopped. I’m slower and gritting my teeth the entire way, but I’m doing it. It’s fun to look back on when I was really struggling and the milestones I accomplished.
The view of Mt. San Jacinto from the park this morning.
Today I reached a milestone. I walked around the park. I appreciate my morning walks more than ever. After my surgery, for weeks I couldn’t walk to the bathroom, around the block, let alone to the park. Waking up early to the brilliant blue sky and the beauty of the desert makes me feel hopeful. Each day I’m trying to get a little further and build on what I’ve done the day before. This weekend, I walked 1.2 miles, then 1.3 miles. Today, the complete walk around the park made it 1.6 miles.
What’s even more fun is having my daughter and Waffles walk with me. I look forward to spending that slice of time with her. Waffles meets other doggos along our walks each day and we stop and let him play. I only have a few weeks left of my daughter at home and we’ll make the most of it.
A morning walk this weekend in Las Palmas.
I used to walk much more, and twice a day. But, I am just so happy to get outside and enjoy the gorgeous views and feel the slightest bit physical. I wish I had more energy, but if I compare myself to where I was a month or two ago, I’m absolutely dripping with energy today. When I go to the pool, it is so exhausting to swim. That probably means it’s really good for me. I will try to add more days of swimming to my week, along with daily walks and physical therapy.
I wrote this two years ago in January after my second swim meet. It’s interesting to look back on where I was with my swimming, as a relatively new swimmer, and how far I’ve fallen. Literally fallen. A year after I wrote this, I was struggling with a torn ACL and meniscus from a ski accident. Talk about getting out of shape and lacking consistency! Then this fall I went through cataract surgeries over a two-month period where I didn’t get a chance to swim. Then the holidays came and I convinced myself — “why bother?”
Today, it’s pouring down rain but my daughter is home and she said she’d go to practice with me. I wish I could turn back the clock to where I was in 2017 when I was better at swimming and showing up for practice. There’s only one thing to do and that is dive in once again!
Our beautiful Palm Springs pool.
From January 30, 2017:
This past weekend, I was at my second swim meet where I was the swimmer. I made the plunge once before—a year ago at the Palm Springs Piranhas hosted meet. I worried all week as the date of the meet approached. What had I done to myself? Why did I sign up for the meet?
Here is a partial list of things I worried and stressed about:
Standing on the blocks. It’s scary up there.
Diving off the blocks. I was afraid my goggles would fall off and I’d lose my contacts.
Doing a flip turn. In practice, I stick with slow open turns. While practicing flip turns the day before the meet, I got water up my nose and hit my head on the bottom of the pool.
Breathing. I worried that halfway through my 50 free I’d start to panic and revert to breath-holding.
Then, I realized that last year I couldn’t get out of the pool and I had to swim to the ladder. This year, I didn’t have to worry about that. I can now get out of the deep end. That thought made me realize all the things that I had done to prepare for the meet and what was under my control:
I had gone to practice consistently for an entire year.
I had improved my diet to make sure I was properly fueled.
I stayed hydrated.
I worked on dives and flip turns with Coach Jeff and felt more confident.
I started a stretching regime that included warming up my shoulders.
I was one year stronger and better at swimming than at my first meet.
Here I am with a few of my Piranha Masters friends.
I was mentally prepared. I was physically ready. I know I’ve made huge progress. Maybe at the next meet, I won’t get so worked up.
My only regret is that I didn’t start swimming when my kids were young. I’ve learned so much from swimming masters about how hard they work, how great their technique is and how hard it is to swim fast. I took it all for granted. I would have had a different perspective on swim meets and practice if only I had begun swimming years ago. I would have shared this bit of wisdom my favorite ref, Paul, told me at the meet, “Relax and have fun. It’s only a swim meet!”
Why do you think swim parents should compete? What makes you nervous before swim meets?
Me and Linda. Two swim moms and swimmers.
P.S. One of my most favorite things this weekend was to see and talk with three “kids” who swam with my children on Piranhas at my Masters meet. They are all grown-up and continuing with the sport they love.
Our neighborhood park is an integral part of my life. I take at least one walk around the park every day, enjoying the gorgeous views of Mt. San Jacinto. I’ve walked countless miles around the park for years.
When the kids were young, I’d meet several other moms at the park and we’d sit on blankets on the grass while we watched our kids swing, climb and slide. The park is where we’d go when our kids would get some sort of flying gift like a simple glider, kite or a remote control plane or rocket. When the kids had friends over, they’d go to the park to play ultimate frisbee.
Two years ago on Christmas break my daughter was home with her 16-month-old pug Waffles. It was during that break that I learned something new about our park. It’s a great place to meet other dog owners. In fact, we found a group who gather in the afternoons and let their little dogs play together. Waffles, who is not at all shy, was trying to take over the group and loves chasing and being chased.
I’m not sure he’s all that welcome in this exclusive club, except by the two lady pugs, Mona and Sadie. The highlight yesterday was a surprise visit by Santa. Waffles, who thinks he’s a media star, thought all the pictures with Santa should include him. My daughter had to pull him out of other puppy pics more than once.
Waffles with Santa at the park.
This year, my daughter and pug are home again for Christmas. I’ve been walking Waffles to the park early in the morning to play with some big dogs and meeting up with the 4 p.m. little dog group, too. The people are friendly but without having a dog in tow, I rarely stop to say hi. This week, I get to be in their exclusive group have have been invited in their circle.
Today, I discovered someone decorated our park with style! They covered three park benches with Christmas joy. Nobody knows who is responsible, but we all appreciate it.
I’m grateful for our park and the daily joy it gives me.
From time to time, I receive emails from swim parents asking me for advice. I am always surprised and flattered when that happens — they obviously care about being a helpful parent — and they think I might have something useful to say. One parent wanted to know how to help their child handle disappointment after missing a cut for a big meet. This is something I know all too well. I talked to my daughter and son about it and they definitely remembered those days, too. My son said, “That was my life!” Here’s a link to the SwimSwam.com article “Ask Swim Mom” I wrote about it. It also reminded me of this post I wrote six years ago!
One of the most important things they learned is perseverance. That stick-with-it never give up attitude that is ingrained in their brains after years of trying for swim goals and just missing them. Then trying and trying again and again until they make them. The very nature of swimming 50 weeks a year, six days a week, makes kids tough.
I’ll never forget my daughter’s frustration of missing her junior national cut by fractions of a second for two years. She didn’t give up. She worked hard. She would still miss.
“Are you kidding me!” She said looking at the scoreboard to see her missing the coveted junior national cut by mere tenths of a second after dropping three full seconds on an 800 meter freestyle race.
The next race, she said, “I’m so done with this!” She dove in with more determination than ever, and yes, she made her cut, dropping seconds on her 200 meter free and coming in second place to one of the fastest girls in the country.
So, what does all this have to do with life? Take her hardest class, AP Stats. She knows that she can do it. She just has to put in the work and time. That may mean getting up and into the classroom at 6 a.m. for extra help, rather than staying warm tucked into her bed. But, she does it — all on her own — without me suggesting it. Her teacher told me, “I know that she will do whatever it takes to be successful, so I am not worried about where her grade is today.”
My son also swam. He worked so hard for every goal, trying to qualify for meets through ten years of year-round swimming. I’ll never forget his determination as an 8th grader. I was a chaperone for his Washington DC trip with his class. He knew he’d be missing too much swimming, so he would run up and down through the Mall, up and down the steps to the Lincoln Memorial, while everyone else strolled. At night in the hotel, he ran the gray cement staircases, up and down the five flights.
When he returned to the pool, he did it! He made his first Junior Olympic time.
Now he’s in college and he knows how to persevere. He wanted to work at the campus radio station. He put in his application as a freshman and was declined. As a junior he has been assigned a time slot on the FM station, moving up from his prior show on the AM.
He wanted to be in the College of Creative Studies, “a graduate school for undergraduates.” He applied and was devastated when he was declined. I told him to move on, it was okay, get a ‘normal’ degree. But, he didn’t give up. The next year he applied again and was accepted. Learn more about the UCSB CCS program here. Just click.
I’ve had friends ask why my kids spend so much time in the pool, aren’t they missing out?
I beg to differ. Spending most of their lives in the water has served them well. Being mostly wet has given them skills for life.
Photo credits: The Palm Springs, CA Pool — one of the most beautiful views while swimming ever. My daughter diving wearing the yellow cap. Yellow-capped swimmers sometime at some club meet. And a great meme for a distance swimmer.