You learn so much about your child when you watch them compete.

Take you marks, Go!
It is amazing to note,
how differently those words effect different children.

Today I was at a swim competition,
one of the coaches to over thirty swimmers,
most aged between eight and eleven.
Many competing for the first time.

For some the whole day was magic.small__318095571
Their eyes were shining,
their enthusiasm obvious.

For others the day was traumatic.
They were in a strange pool,
terrified they would miss their race,
and worried about swimming.

So much of their personality revealed.

However, it never ceases to amaze me,
regardless of how they present at the start,
terrified or enthusiastic,
that for some when the whistle blows,
a certain innate nature takes over,
and they rise to the challenge.

For others the whistle blows,
they dive in and “stroll” along.
Some of these are swimmers who are leaders in training.
However in a race a normally slower swimmer beats them.
They have no race pace,
they like to maintain an even keel.

For every swimmer I see race,
so much of their personality and character is revealed.
As I looked at some of my swimmers today,
I found myself pointing out to parents,
some amazing qualities their children were exhibiting.

The child who walked over to shake a fellow finalist hand,
or the one who choked but settled himself and swam on.
The one who lost his goggles, yet never skipped a stroke,
swimming so fast he made the final.
The one who didn’t tie his togs properly, and still managed to swim on.
As he moved onto backcrawl,
I could see his little face struggling, to swim and not cry.
He made the final and won, (tying his togs tightly definitely helped).
At this point I could also mention,
the kindness, support and comradeship,
kids give to each other without prejudice.

All around the pool, in every swim team,
there were swimmers just like ours.
All showing elements of their nature,
parents may never see in everyday life.
One of the greatest returns I get from a competition,
is when a parents eyes are opened,
to a characteristic they never associated with their child.small__3249397664

So when I hear people say,
“I’d prefer my child to play a team sport”
I think to myself how little they understand.
A team sport is wonderful,
but to compete alone takes nerve,
and kids naturally understand they are also part of a team.

So well done to my little team today.
And as always I salute the winners,
but it is often the losers I will never forget!

photo credit: eric.surfdude via photopin cc

photo credit: scrambldmeggs via photopin cc

11 thoughts on “You learn so much about your child when you watch them compete.

    1. I keep forgetting the europe v usa english. I don’t even know if they use that word in Europe or is it just an Irish thing! Thank you.

      1. I just had to know what the boy forgot to tie….. There’s nothing wrong with me looking up a definition…. I’ll use it in place of the daily crossword, to keep me smart!!!!!:)

  1. Ha! This reminds me of my own son (now 24) in his first competitive swim. I use the term ‘competitive’ loosely, as he was anything but.

    In any situation like this, if he were winning, he’d do his damnedest to stay in front. If he was in one of the lesser placings, he’d try if he thought he could hold on to his position, but if he was last… forget it. He’d just switch off and potter along in his own time. It infuriated his teacher/coach, but as No1 son saw it, he’d quite happily come last if it were obvious that he didn’t care, but like hell would he flog his guts out only to be last over the line.


    1. Ha ha. And did this turn out to be a true reflection of his personality? I have one of these in the squad, but he is brilliant on a relay even if not getting placed.

      1. He is very committed and competitive if it’s something that he’s interested in, or sees the value in.

        He loves his job (he’s a software engineer… and a bloody good one by all accounts) and gives it 100%. However, you try to get him to do something that holds no interest for him, and he’ll drag his feet over it until he’s absolutely forced to complete the task.

        1. I suppose competing is a bit like “give me the boy when he’s seven and I’ll show you the man”, although I don’t fully agree with this. Surely competition can teach you a lot about yourself and life moulds and changes you depending on what is thrown at you. But my point remains it does show parents aspects of character they may not have seen.

  2. An absolute delight, that article! I was more of a bookworm, right from the start. My mother didn’t care much about it but my father insisted that I learn at least one sport! He said sports teach you the most valuable lesson in life… They teach you how to lose gracefully! I have to thank my father for insisting and today, I see myself playing several sports and only willing to learn more of them. The court/pool/ground teaches you very important things about yourself… Kudos to the winners and congratulations to the graceful losers too 🙂

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