Today I watched you, as a mother bird watches her young take their first flight.
I watched as you came from the changing rooms,
out onto the pool deck.
Many of you in your first ever swim competition.
It was easy spot you,
as you arrived out, fully prepared, wearing hat and goggles,
unaware your race was an hour or more away.
Throughout the two long days we spoke with you,
encouraged you, and instructed you.
I watched as you lined up for your races,
fingers in mouths, fidgeting nervously.
Some smiled when we cheered, others looked sick,
and for some it was just too much.
Tears flowed, and words of encouragement were needed,
to get you off the blocks.
Swimming alongside you were our older swimmers.
Tall, almost fully grown teenagers,
who dwarfed you, making me feel even more protective of you.
As I watched, young and old, line up together,
my mind traveled back ten years.
To a time when those self same teenagers were young swimmers.
They too had, once upon a time, come tentatively on deck.
Some had swam confidently, with few nerves,
while others needed to be taken by the hand,
and given a little nudge.
Today I smiled as I saw the past and present gathered before me.
Tall boys and girls of seventeen and eighteen,
beside small girls and boys of eight and nine.
And despite the tears, the fears,
the triumphs and upsets for those young swimmers today,
I have no doubt that in years to come,
these swimmers will be the future.
Some will make it nationally,and a few internationally.
In time a new crop of young swimmers will stand alongside them.
Young and nervous they will look up to those tall older teenagers,
in admiration and awe at the great swimmers they have become.
And so the cycle will continue.
And with any luck, I will be around to witness it,
and to remember today.
photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc