Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Toughen Up Buttercup

Carmella is on swim team. She's a Gator. And she does not love it.

Carmella never embraces anything that is difficult. It makes her stand out because she is not perfect or proficient. But swim team is the one sport my kids will do. I don't care if they compete, win or lose but they will learn to be excellent swimmers. I don't care if it makes them hate me now; someday they will thank me. Swimming is not only a life skill but is a fitness gift. It is an excellent foundation for any sport because it builds all over strength and endurance in spades. So whether Carmella loves it or not is really a non issue.

Carmella is not terrible she is just inexperienced and lacks endurance. The coach even commented that her stroke is pretty good. This is huge since she has never had swim lessons--well except 2 weeks at camp last year but she could already swim. In my mind both experience and endurance are hers. She just has to practice.

Really, both my kids are natural swimmers. Carmella started swimming the summer she was 3. She probably would have at 2 but I was pregnant and didn't want to go to the pool so much. Not to mention her cautious nature holds her back sometimes. She has always been a cautious child. At 6 months old when I bathed her she would hold tightly to the side of the tub, never letting go.

Beau, on the other hand, at the same age would lay flat on his back under the water and smile up at us blowing bubbles. He has always loved water and started swimming when he was 2-- like Carmella, self taught. Although he is 2 years younger he is almost as strong a swimmer as Carmella and in some ways stronger because he has much more confidence in his ability. Unfortunately for Beau you must be 5 by May 31st to be on the swim team. So he is on the Little Gator team that will begin "practices" next week. Neither he or nor I (or the coach, who of course has come to know Beau by name) can wait.
Oh, and today was hat day for Beau at school:
Today was Carmella's 3rd practice she has been able to attend. And today was the first time she did not cry. Partly this was because it was in the 80's and the pool wasn't freezing. But also because, just like I told her, it is getting easier.

The first practice she started crying upon realizing she had to swim the whole 25yds. I told her that she could do it and she was very happy to find that she could do it--with no stopping I might add and doing an almost correct crawl stroke. Of course, upon finishing that first lap she was dismayed that she had to go back. And back again and then back again. But that day she swam 4 laps and was very proud of herself even though I had to walk along the pool the whole practice screaming "Put your face down and swim! Kick! Your legs are your motor."

I am that mom. I am even that mom for the kids who want to quit but their moms aren't there to stop them. So far I have badgered and encouraged no less than three kids to hang tough and see it through. I tell them about how quitting always feel bad but finishing--no matter how hard-- always feels fantastic. I think they just get in the pool and swim to get away from me.

Whatever works I say.

So at the second practice it was way cold--68 degrees and overcast. Had this been an open water swim at a triathlon everyone would have been in wet suits. Carmella cried and hung on the rope and hated me but was so proud of herself with her six laps.

And today? Today she came up to me at the start of practice and said she had a tummy ache.
I said "No you don't. Get in the pool and swim."
She said "But. . ."
And I said, "Buttercup get your butt in the pool and swim!"
And she did and, better yet, today she didn't cry.
She even went first and finished with her heat (this is huge to not get swam over by the more experienced swimmers). I cheered her on and called out to her that she was a Rock Star! She swam a few more 25's and 50 without having to grab the rope. They finished up the day with a 100. All the kids--at least the 7-8 year olds were hanging on the rope by that 3rd lap. Her buddy Reina passed her in the first lap and said "We have to do this 4 times." I died laughing because if Carmella cussed her face said some very choice words but nevertheless she tucked head and swam on.

I think today they swam about 300 yds. Maybe 400. Since I didn't have to walk along the deck until the end to do my encouraging I wasn't keeping lap count.

So . . . Check. Her. Out! This is her on her first 100 ever!
My little buttercup is getting all tough and sucking it up and I just couldn't be more proud!


  1. That is so awesome! Good for Carmella! She is following in her mom's footsteps :-)

  2. Nice story.
    I know you guys are close to us, so hope you weathered the storms well.


  3. Love it - go Buttercup! : )

    I'm so impressed with the first 100- when you are small it feels like FOREVER.

  4. No comment. I couldn't stand the early morning and cold water. I am a wuss.

  5. I am v. impressed. As you mentioned, ours aren't old enough yet, but wowee, go Carmella!!

    And you know, you have to remind yourself how far that is for a little one, and also? That cold morning water? I didn't like that even when I was a much bigger, more experienced swimmer. Hell, I still don't like it.


  6. Lala is a very proud too! (you are quite the swim nazi though) I kept thinking of Carmella last night when I took my first Bikram yoga class. I didn't quit either (even though I thought I would have a heat stroke at any second) if my 7 yr old granddaughter could stick it out in the water, I could stick it out in the yoga studio with the atmospheric conditions of hell.

  7. This really hit home for me, as I could swim like a fish before I could even walk. I think some of it had to do with my mom swimming the DAY she went into labor with me.

    When I first started swim team, I used be able to itch my arms and legs in the cold water and literally give myself hives in order to get out of early summer practices. It took until about 11 that I began to actaully enjoy it...but years later I am SO grateful to have started so young.

  8. That is awesome. I really really wish my parents had pushed me into some kind of sport when I was younger. And this seems to be something that she's really good at! Awesome job Buttercup!

  9. Looks like shes a natural swimmer, even if she doesnt know it yet.

  10. Can you come and yell at me while I run? I could really use it!