It's always good to end the week on a positive note. Sometimes we concentrate on the negatives. We have a choice. Choose positive. Choose to celebrate. I will be joining Ruth Ayres and her weekly link-up, Celebrate This Week. Check out all the other celebrations HERE
I am writing this post a bit late because I needed to wait for the meet to be over, and now that it is, I can officially celebrate.
The past three days, Thurs-today, my daughter participated in her first ever Paralympic Can Am Open swim meet. This is an international swim meet that has qualifying standards.
My daughter swims on a competitive club team. Despite having a 6 inch leg length discrepancy, not having a hip on her right side, having a lack of range of motion between her knees, and having a fused right ankle, she is a good swimmer. With able bodied swimmers, she is right there in the middle of them. She's not the fastest, and she is definitely not the slowest. She will never have times that shine like the fastest of swimmers are able to get.
We found the Paralympic events a couple of years ago. Our head coach pointed us in the right direction and get us set up to be classified. Our daughter has participated in two swim meets at the Olympic Training Plaza in Colorado Springs. The swimmers are supportive, kind, and very competitive. Sitting on deck with the parents is a great experience. Everyone is supportive and wants the best for each swimmer. Everyone is genuinely interested in all of the swimmers and the comments are genuine and kind. I've seen members of the US Paralympic swimming team take the time to encourage all swimmers and go up and talk to everyone.
This is the first time our daughter has qualified for the "next level". There are usually two Can(ada) Am(erican) Open swim meets each year. They do not have one this spring because of Olympic Trials. Our daughter qualified in one event, the 400m free, and was able to swim in two bonus events. Since she is undergoing her next limb lengthening surgery this coming May, which will put her out of swim for an extended period of time, we figured we would go to the CanAm since we don't know when the next one will be for her. It was the first time she would be able to swim in a prelim/finals situation. Did I mention she's only 10 years old?
There was definitely a bit more pressure than her regular swim meets. First of all, she didn't have her swim buddies with her. She had her coach, but as any parent of a tween know, that's definitely not the same! And she woke up with a horrible head cold the day we left. But, she triumphed through it all. Prelims for the 400m free the first morning were a bit tough. Somewhere between nerves, not feeling well, swimming in a new pool, left her swimming a bit inconsistently. But she worked it out for that night's finals and did great. Friday she had the 100m back, and had a great prelims and finals. Today she swam the 200m back, which was a timed finals only event (meaning she doesn't have to go back tonight). She took 25 seconds off from her time in June!
As I sit in the stands and watch these athletes, I feel so fortunate that these kids and adults are recognized as the athletes they are. We talk about growth mindset all the time in the classroom. It's an area that should be addressed by the sporting community as well.
I talked with a family this morning who has a son who is in a wheelchair. He would love to be more competitive in swimming, but there aren't any club swim programs that will take him on their team. He swims for his high school, and his coach there coaches him in the summer as well, but it's still not year round.
I talked with a young woman who was there cheering on her boyfriend. He found swimming after fighting through his own demons after being wounded in war. He had a dream to be on the paralympic track and field team, but once those plans were altered, he found swimming as a way to continue to compete and reach new goals.
These athletes that I had the good fortune to meet this weekend showed me that they are determined and are showing us all to not discount them.
What a weekend. Now excuse me, my daughter is ready to go to the pool. Except this time it's to play, not swim laps!
Go Team USA!