Tag Archives: swimming

Going With The Change-up This Summer

During the last few summers, our family’s schedule has often felt as busy as the school year.  But this year we have prioritized our commitments, streamlined the summer calendar, and found ourselves with actual down-time once in a while.

In the past, theme camps at the local health club, rec center, and community college have allowed our kids to delve into piracy, dinosaurs, odd science, etc.  Sports camps have fed their soccer and volleyball skills; in fact, volleyball has included travel club camps, high school booster camps, skills-specific camps, and even a ‘college showcase’ camp.  A major challenge with the camps is deciding who should go where, and when.  If 3 kids have 3 camps in 3 different places, the logistics are crazy.  But if we spread them out to different weeks, summer travel becomes as hard to schedule as trips during the school year.  The kids had plenty of good experiences over the years, but it was time for a little different schedule.

This year?  Our rising high school junior has assisted for a week at her coach’s booster camp, and she may attend another camp as a player to sharpen up before school tryouts.  For our camps this summer–as Tony Kornheiser might say–‘That’s it.  That’s the list.’ 

But no one is exactly sitting around our house wondering what to do until we head out of town for a vacation.  Here are a few examples:

  • In our 9th year on the team at our local pool, swimming remains an important part of summer life.  It is the favorite activity for our 13 year old–practicing the early shift–and a favorite for her 9 year old brother–practicing at 9:00.  This schedule gives each day a balance of consistent structure to start off followed by freedom from 10:00 on.  (Alas, their older sister retired from swimming this year, but she will grudgingly admit that much of her success in volleyball over the years was made possible by the muscle she added to her once-skinny frame through all of those years in the pool.)
  • School workbooks and assigned reading:  chores or good times?  It’s all a question of attitude.  We’re going for ‘good times’ this summer, and there should be no August rush to get everything done.
  • I am teaching the ex-swimmer how to drive.  That’s certainly……interesting.
  • Driving range.  With 2 kids who want to learn how to play golf, taking turns hitting a few shots in a row turned this into a great hour–at a bargain price.
  • Books for the sake of books.  This afternoon my son and I settled in for some quality reading time.  He went with a book ironically called The Name of This Book is Secret, while I worked through a few chapters of Hemingway.  (Once an English teacher….)  What could be better than an afternoon read in a cool living room on a 95 degree day?
  • We’ve also found time for foosball.  Wii.  Building a robot duck.  (Seriously.)  Extra time at the pool, without laps or stopwatches.  Time with grandparents.  Some pretty wild squirtguns that I wish were around when I was a kid.  Tending a neighbor’s dog.  An occasional episode of the original Star Trek series.  (After a year, we are just over half-way through, so it’s a perfect time to pick up the pace).  The time fills itself–so far with plenty of good things.

Hopefully we will be a little more rested and ready this year when the school year starts off again at the end of August.  But either way, we are enjoying the change-up.


Filed under Activities & Sports, Holidays, Living Well, Places to Go

Found: The Ideal Sport for Kids

We’ve done most of the usual sports over the years, some for just 1 or 2 seasons and some that have clearly become life-long activities:  t-ball, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, volleyball, gymnastics, football, karate…even a few tennis and golf lessons last summer.

But in our experience, swimming is the sport that consistently seems to treat kids the best.  Here are 7 reasons:

1.  PLAYING TIME–In swimming, everyone participates.  No one is stuck on the sidelines.

1A.  A DIFFERENT DEFINITION OF WINNING–We are all about the ‘personal best.’  Our summer coaches even award a ribbon every time a swimmer breaks his own best time in an event.  So we never worry about whether our son or daughter comes in first or last in an event.  Instead, success = taking time off.  With this approach, a last-place finish that sets a personal best is a much bigger accomplishment than a first place finish that is slower than the seed time.  The opponents that matter most are the clock and your own best time.

3.  FITNESS–3 examples:

  • My 8 year old’s abs put a G.I. Joe doll….er….action figure…to shame.  His secret?  2 hours of practice per week during the school year, 5 hours of practice per week during the summer season–plus swim meets.
  • After 8 years of summer swimming, his 16 year old sister has at least 10 more pounds of muscle than she would have.  Always very thin, instead of resembling one of those skeletons that hang in a science classroom she is now strong enough to play high school varsity and travel club volleyball.
  • Their 13 year old sister swims 100 and 200 meter events.  Then she grabs a drink and a quick snack before competing in her next event as soon as 30 minutes later.

4.  THE POOL–AGGRESSION FREE ZONE–In most sports, kids learn–and sometimes are coached–to use aggression to offset someone else’s superior skill.  In swimming, the lane lines give each swimmer her own space, and the only thing that matters is speed.  Swimming doesn’t necessarily favor the big…and there is no opportunity to be rough:  Swimming rewards the fast.

5.  BALANCING TEAM AND THE INDIVIDUAL–Swim meets are team competitions, and kids and their parents cheer their fellow Dolphins, Dragons, Sharks, or Seahorses.  At the same time each swimmer can earn a personal best or a place ribbon, usually in 3-4 different events. in one day  But there is no conflict between team and individual goals:  Swimming is the rare team sport in which an individual pushing solely for his own success cannot hurt the team’s performance.

6.  SAFETY–Because there is no physical contact between players or with any hard surfaces or equipment, injuries–beyond the occasional strained muscle–are rare.  In swimming I enjoy watching my kids train and compete without any worry about sprains, broken bones, or concussions.

7.  A SPORT FOR ALL SEASONS–The summer (June-July) outdoor season and the winter (September-May) indoor season combine to give kids the opportunity to train and compete for up to 11 months out of the year.

If we could just get them to start the swim meets a little later in the day…


Filed under Activities & Sports