Last night was Clare's first meet of the neighborhood swim team season. It felt good to be veterans this time around, as opposed to the shell-shocked rookies of last year. I packed a picnic, secured a sitter for Danny and Laura, and left looking forward to the evening. (It helped that I was riding with Crystal - who was a rookie this time - so it was already a built-in social occasion.)
Despite being absolutely exhausted from a sleepover and four trips to the pool in a 24-hour period, Clare was pumped. She was also happy to play mentor to Kylie, whose nervousness at the unknown brought back to mind Clare's first time around. What a difference a year (not to mention nine months of indoor swim team) makes. Because Clare absolutely loves these meets, I thought it would be fun to document the experience for posterity.
The day begins with swim practice in the morning, as usual (Clare is wearing the white swim cap):
After a relatively low-key day, we left in the later afternoon for the away meet and, after fighting for a parking spot, went in and began to get settled. It's always chaotic trying to determine a good spot for our chairs, but eventually we chose one and the girls went off to get marked up (to the non-initiated, this is when they write their events/heats/lanes on their arms so that they know where to be and when; they also write their names on the backs of their shoulders so parents and coaches can easily identify them). This tends to linger for a few days:
Then they wait around until it's the team's turn to warm up:
After warm-ups, the team meets for a quick pep talk and cheer:
Ready for the races to begin!
Swim meets are the epitome of hurry up and wait. With 90-100 events, 5 of which Clare swam, there is a lot of waiting around. Clare did get to swim her first event, the 50 freestyle, very early on in the meet. Here she is, poised to go:
She looked good and strong, and lightning years beyond what she looked like last year.
Meanwhile, here is Tim, fulfilling our familial obligation to volunteer by acting as a first-half timer:
Clare's next event was the butterfly leg in the 200 medley relay - for the 11-12 year-old girls! Two laps of butterfly is brutal, but she definitely gave it her all. After that she had two easier events, the 25 breaststroke and 25 backstroke, pictured here:
We've enjoyed cooler-than-average weather, which has been marvelous but did make for a chillier evening once the sun went down. Clare bundled up in some towels as she watched the races pretty intently. She brought her iPod, and playing cards, and never even thought about using either. I think part of that is she was just tired, but partially it's her love of the entire atmosphere that keeps her focused.
Her last event was the 200 freestyle relay, again swimming with 11-12 year-old girls - and she swam the anchor. She looked awesome. By then it was dark and it's hard to get decent swimming pictures anyway, so you'll have to take my word for it.
The mornings following swim meets, the coaches host "Fun Fridays," wherein the swimmers get to swim for fun, eat donuts, and go down the water slide. They also receive their ribbons, of which Clare earned: first place in the 25 back; first place in the 25 breast; 2nd place for the 50 free and the 200 free relay; and 3rd place for the IM relay. Not too shabby!
We're excited to see what next week brings!