What have your neighbors done for you when you needed help? Do you play that role with any neighbors?
Every morning my husband and I get ready for our walk around 5 a.m. to avoid the heat. We don’t make it out the door for at least 30 minutes, needing clothes, clean teeth and coffee!
Consistently, we see one other couple out early. We say “Good morning!” “What a beautiful day,” and usually walk on.
During the weekend, my husband stopped to ask about their granddaughters who are swimmers. They told us their oldest signed with Northwestern and their youngest is getting calls across the country at top colleges. They talked about how they did at CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) where swimmers compete for their high school teams and how they were top finalists.
“Our daughter was a multiple CIF Champion,” my husband mentioned. Yes, she was. That’s a memory I’ll look back on with pride.
Our neighbors talked about a meet they just returned from in Northern California, the George Haines International Swim Meet. Yes, we’ve been to that meet, too. It’s filled with top swimmers including Olympians from the USA, Europe and Mexico.
Here’s a video I took of warm up from the George Haines International meet in 2017:
The conversation with our neighbors brought back so many memories from the days our kids swam. Busy days traveling to meets, staying in hotels, sitting with favorite parents on the stands. Each morning we wondered what the day would bring.
I felt a little sad and melancholy after talking to our neighbors. I’m glad we were a swim family. But there’s no going back to those days. On a sad note, the team our kids swam with from kindergarten through high school folded a few weeks ago after more than 50 years. I couldn’t count the hours we spent volunteering and supporting our team.
My daughter celebrating with her relay team at the end of a swim meet.
What memories from days past do you think about in a happy or melancholy way?
I don’t sew. But I saw a youtube video on how to make a t-shirt quilt. I thought it would be a fun thing to do with the dozens of t-shirts my kids got during their lifetime of swimming. The team had shirts. They’d get t-shirts at big meets. Swim t-shirts were breeding in our closets.
I mentioned it to my son and he thought it was an excellent idea! I promptly forgot about it. A month before he left home he reminded me I had better get started on the quilt.
The last time I visited the kids was in February. My son’s girlfriend had asked if I could fix the quilt. I said sure — without looking at it. I brought it home with me in a duffle bag.
Yikes. What can I do to save this?
I made a quilt for my daughter when she went off to college, too. Then there were still an abundance of Piranha Swim Team of Palm Springs t-shirts hanging out in drawers and closets that I made a third quilt. I made it for my daughter but she doesn’t have room for it, and didn’t particularly like it. She gave it back to me.
I’ve decided to give this one to my son — after I cover up a few of my daughter’s squares, with ones I salvaged from his tattered and torn quilt.
Do you have a supply of t-shirts that you don’t know what to do with? If so, click on this LINK to make a t-shirt quilt. If I can do it, you can too. Like I said, I didn’t know how to sew when I started the first one.
What sewing have you done in your life?
I gave up part of my day to volunteer at the Piranhas Masters meet. I was too chicken to sign up to swim. I haven’t done a meet since pre-knee and eye surgery.
I took on a new writing job for trade magazines in the last few months that has me chasing deadlines and sources — even through the weekends. Maybe I shouldn’t have been there and should have stayed home and worked.
But, I went and feel so good about helping out, cheering on my teammates and friends.
Two things that stood out today:
The first heat I timed, my lane had a 98-year-old woman, who needed help to get on the blocks, who dove in and swam a 200 free. I said to my teammate and friend sitting next to me, “What was my excuse again for not swimming?”
Then there was the 20-something-old autistic young man who doesn’t function well in day-to-day life. I watched as he got up on the blocks, dove in, swam amazing underwaters, gorgeous strokes and won events with personal bests. His friend and coach told me he’s part of the US Paralympic Team. Although he doesn’t function in the “real world” he gets the pool. It was beautiful to watch. The support he got from his competitors was amazing, too. Everyone was on his team.
Volunteering was exactly the medicine I needed to feel fulfilled, connect with my community and get away from the stress of deadlines.
I recently read about the benefits of volunteering from several articles. Here’s one I read called “Volunteering and its Surprising Benefits” from a website called Help Guide: Your Trusted Guide to Mental Health & Wellness. Here’s the link and an excerpt:
Volunteering can help you make friends, learn new skills, advance your career, and even feel happier and healthier. Learn how to find the right fit.
With busy lives, it can be hard to find time to volunteer. However, the benefits of volunteering can be enormous. Volunteering offers vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes, and the community, but the benefits can be even greater for you, the volunteer. The right match can help you to find friends, connect with the community, learn new skills, and even advance your career.
Giving to others can also help protect your mental and physical health. It can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose. While it’s true that the more you volunteer, the more benefits you’ll experience, volunteering doesn’t have to involve a long-term commitment or take a huge amount of time out of your busy day. Giving in even simple ways can help those in need and improve your health and happiness.
Benefits of volunteering: 4 ways to feel healthier and happier
Volunteering connects you to others
Volunteering is good for your mind and body
Volunteering can advance your career
Volunteering brings fun and fulfillment to your life
Where do you volunteer in your community and what do you enjoy most about it?
I wrote this five years ago when my daughter was still swimming with the Piranha Swim Team in Palm Springs. What an amazing time we’ve had as part of Piranhas since 2001. Swimming has been a vital part of our family life, and now with the kids gone, my husband and I have joined as masters. It’s fun to look back at my memories from the team. So many great coaches, kids and parents throughout the swimming community.
One of my favorite parts of being a year-round swim parent for the past 14 years has been swim meets. Not home meets, but traveling to meets. Don’t get me wrong, the home meets have their unique qualities that I’m sure I’ll miss — but, travel meets — I’ll definitely miss more.
This past weekend, we were at a meet in So Cal Thursday through Sunday. Other swim parents posted photos and wrote on Facebook about how much they enjoyed the weekend and meet. My age group swim parenting days are numbered — 40 days and nights to be exact — but who’s counting? With my daughter leaving soon for college, I’m nostalgic about why I and other swim parents love meets.
My top six reasons why I love swim meets include:
- Spending time together. When you are away for two to five days with your swimmer, you have a captive audience. There’s no distraction of 8 hours at school, followed by 3 hours of swim practice, and hanging out with their non-swim friends. Spending lots of time together, unfettered with household, work, and daily school responsibilities is refreshing. Enjoy your little bubble of time, treat it like a mini-vacation. Play cards, sing songs, go to the beach, have fun! You’ll look back on these days as precious memories.
- Nap time. When your swimmer is older, and in age groups that have prelims and finals, you’ll find yourself in your hotel — with your swimmer — for three to four hours in the middle of the day. Your swimmer needs to be off their feet and resting, so going to the beach isn’t a good choice. Nor is shopping. Bring in lunch, relax, and enjoy some of the best naps you’ll ever have!
- Walking. Being at a meet for days on end, without cooking, cleaning, working, etc. allows plenty of time to walk. I walk during warm-ups and warm-downs. I walk with my husband, with friends, and by myself. I look forward to checking out the areas by the pools on foot. Walking gets rid of my nervous energy and walking for hours and miles has to be good for me!
- Friendships. You’ll spend lots of hours with team parents under the pop-up tent. Mostly, swim parents are generous, encouraging and have the common interest of your team and kids’ successes at heart. I’ve made great friends with parents from other teams and I look forward to seeing them at the away meets. I had a great conversation this past weekend with a parent of another graduating senior. Our daughters are in separate towns, on separate teams, yet they are both swimming in college next year — and going through the same excitements and anxieties. I’ll look forward to seeing these parents in the future, during our college phase of swim meets.
- Watching your swimmer race. What is it about watching your child race that is so rewarding and exciting? I’m not sure, but if you have the answer, please let me know. It’s so exciting when they do well. I love that feeling when I see their hard work pay off and watch their growth as a person and an athlete.
- Sushi. We eat lots of sushi at swim meets. I consider myself a sushi connoisseur and I’ve scouted for the best sushi restaurants near pools throughout Southern California. My daughter likes to eat sushi at meets, too. It’s healthy, light, provides her with the right fuel to race. My top three favorite Sushi restaurants include:
O Fine Japanese Cuisine, Laguna Beach and Irvine, CA
This week, while I am recovering from surgery, I am reposting some of my earliest blog posts. Enjoy! I’ll try to make it back to work next week.
I was sitting outside a roped off area with a sign posted “No Parents Allowed” at a three-day swim meet in LA with close to 1,400 swimmers.
“But, I HAVE to get my son this bottle of water,” a mom begged the volunteer parent wearing a neon orange vest, who was in charge of guarding the entrance to the “swimmer’s only” area.
“ARE YOU PROMISING TO GET MY SALLY TO HER EVENT ON TIME? I’M HOLDING YOU ACCOUNTABLE!” another mother yelled with her finger wagging in the face of the orange-vested volunteer. The mom was shaking in frustration and anger.
I sat calmly by — watching, observing, and remembering — that was me. Not the yeller, but the one pleading. My daughter is 18 and going off to college next fall. She’s been a swimmer since age five.
Helicopter after helicopter mom argued and pleaded with the volunteers, who are swim parents themselves, on how they’d just be a second to find their child, bring them water, lunch, or make sure they made it to their event.
I wanted to tell them “RELAX!” If their swimmers had made it this far, to the season’s championship meet, they’re going to be okay. Calm down, let them hang out with their friends and teammates. They’ll be fine and will survive. After all, I had just made it through watching my daughter swim the mile. I didn’t get up once and scream, “GO!” which I have done at every flip turn for the past 15 years. If I can calm down and let go — you other moms can too!
And — if they don’t drink enough water, or miss their event — they might actually learn from it.
Here are 10 great things to remember as a parent of children in any sport. It’s from USA Swimming.
10 COMMANDMENTS FOR SWIM PARENTS
I. Thou shall not impose thy ambitions on thy child.
II. Thou shall be supportive no matter what.
III. Thou shall not coach thy child.
IV. Thou shall only have positive things to say at a competition.
V. Thou shall acknowledge thy child’s fears.
VI. Thou shall not criticize the officials.
VII. Thou shall honor thy child’s coach.
VIII. Thou shall be loyal and supportive of thy team.
IX. Thy child shall have goals besides winning.
X. Thou shall not expect thy child to become an Olympian.
More handy tips can be found at USA Swimming’s page for parents.
FYI, the top photo of my daughter’s relay team was taken by a 12-year-old teammate, who obviously can make it to her events, stay hydrated, swim fast, and take great pics! The second photo is my daughter 12 years ago. The last photo was taken from the “parents only” section of the East LA College pool.
Do you ever look back at what you were doing a year ago? Or a few years ago? This blog allows me to review a snapshot of what I was feeling and doing during any month since 2015. Two years ago this week, I made a huge commitment that was totally out of my comfort zone. If I wasn’t injured today, I’d be swimming in my third meet next weekend. Here’s what I wrote in late January 2016:
I started swimming in April last year with US Masters, with my kids’ team Piranhas. It was my New Year’s Resolution to take the big plunge in 2015. I am embarrassed to admit that it took me until April to start on my New Year’s Resolution.
Eventually, I jumped in and I think it’s one of the best things I did for myself in 2015. You can read about my first days of Masters, here.
I equate joining US Masters to how I believe swimming was one of the single best things my kids did growing up. To a non-swimming family, this may sound crazy. But, there are so many benefits to swimming that changed my kids’ lives. Read more, here.
Biggest example—swimming changed my son’s health. He was, as his favorite coach termed, “A Secret Garden Child.” He suffered from asthma and chronic illness and swimming doubled his lung capacity. His asthma doctor became a big advocate for him to swim.
So, what am I doing this year to push myself and what’s my New Year Resolution? One thing I’d like to do and I’m not 100 percent successful with is to get up an hour earlier each morning. I’m getting better, but it sure didn’t start off well. I have noticed, though, that I’m more productive with an hour earlier start.
The other big thing I’m doing to push myself out of my comfort zone is I signed up for my first swim meet. YIKES! I said it. I signed up for a Masters meet hosted by Piranhas. I’m scared to death. But, actually not as frightened as I was my first day in the pool last April.
I practiced going off the blocks twice and it wasn’t pretty. When I was a kid, I learned to dive with a flat, almost belly flop “racing dive.” Old habits are hard to change. I’ve decided it might be best if I push off from the wall at the meet. But then my 83-year-old dad said, “I’m not going to come and watch you race if you push off the wall!” I’m not sure if he’s kidding or not!
In any case, I’ll let you know how it goes. If I show up or chicken out. If I dive off the blocks.
What have you done to get yourself out of your comfort zone and get off the blocks?