My little guy has a love/hate relationship with swimming. The ‘love’ part is that he’s a very natural swimmer with a beautiful swimming style and he has the potential to be a very good swimmer. The ‘hate’ part is that he’d really rather not swim.
Up until yesterday, that is.
The problem for Alfie is that he has a mother who believes swimming is one of the best sports you can do. It’s pretty difficult to injure yourself, it’s an excellent form of exercise, it’s an important life skill and if you have asthma, (like he does), it develops and strengthens your lungs.
So armed with all these listed benefits, and the fact that swimming was always the sport I loved and enjoyed the most, there was no way my little guy was going to be a spectator. (Especially when I’ve done overnighters with him in local hospitals because of the asthma).
Alfie has always had one swimming lesson a week during term time and if I could talk him into attending the intensive program during the school holidays he would have been there as well.
Last year Alfie qualified for the Zone Swimming Carnival and was super-excited about that. But at the Zone he suddenly found himself surrounded by a lot of swimmers who took their swimming very seriously and were super-competitive. He was out of his depth.
Alfie did not do well and came home shattered. I asked, ‘Do you want to do better next year?’
‘Then you’ll have to start doing two squads a week’. And so he did. And he started to progress very quickly and became competent in all four strokes. Half way through the year, his coach, who is also my coach, said Alfie was doing so well and is such a natural swimmer he should be doing three squads a week. I suggested this to Alfie but he said, ‘I don’t want to. I’m not like you, mum, I don’t like swimming’. So we stayed at two squads per week.
This week Alfie had his school’s swimming carnival. A form came home where you had to tick the events your child would be entering. We agreed he wouldn’t do the 200 medley but then he said, ‘And don’t put me down for backstroke because I’m no good at backstroke’.
On the morning of the carnival Alfie said, ‘At school yesterday they said I’m swimming the backstroke. Did you sign me up for the backstroke deliberately?’
‘I might have, Alfie, because I think you’re pretty good at backstroke’.
Alfie’s first event was the 100mtrs freestyle. He was super-nervous to the point of telling me, ‘I’m starting to get stressed’. I told him it’s normal to be nervous and that as soon as he hit the water he would be fine. He won his 100mtrs freestyle. He started to feel better about all his upcoming events.
His next race was the 50mtrs freestyle. After a false start he came 2nd and we hoped his time would be fast enough to qualify for the final.
Then came his best stroke which is breaststroke. Out of all the heats he had the fastest time.
Next was backstroke, the event he didn’t want to do. He was the fastest qualifier in that event as well.
Then came butterfly and he won that race by quite a distance.
Alfie did qualify for the final of the 100mtrs freestyle. I told him if he wanted to qualify for the Zone Carnival he needed to finish first or second and to do that he’d have to swim much faster than he did in the Heat. Alfie said, ‘I will mum, I’m actually really enjoying myself’. He took three seconds off his time and won the final.
Then he helped his House by swimming in the relay and that was the final event of the carnival.
Now, while you can’t do better than winning all your events, it does need to be noted that at Alfie’s school a lot of students leave at the end of Year 4 so the competition wasn’t as tough as it might have been. However, I certainly didn’t point that out to Alfie and we celebrated with him accordingly.
The best thing about all this is that in the car on the way home, Alfie said, ‘Mum, I want to do three squads a week; I really love swimming’.
It was only a matter of time.