Stepping Up in Competition

your face when you learned that 100 fly was your first event of the morning. You're the only kid on the pool deck in the lucky robe though.

your face when you learned that 100 fly was your first event of the morning. You’re the only kid on the pool deck in the lucky robe though.

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

We went to Birmingham last weekend for a swim meet. Last November we went to Knoxville for a meet, but this year Excel shifted attendance to the BSL Cranberry Classic.

You stayed at Gramma and Grandfather’s Max and Kate, while Mommy, Izzy, and I spent the weekend in the stands at the Birmingham Crossplex.

Izzy, as always you never cease to amaze us with your ability to adapt and achieve. We entered this swim season conceding that it wasn’t going to be quite as successful as last season (when you surprised us all qualifying for Southeasterns in 3 events in your first year as a year-round swimmer).

You moved up to a new age-group this year, so we were cautioned that the competition is harder, the time standards are different, etc. We’ve also allowed you to make your own path in this, your first your of middle school. And of course, so far you’ve made nothing but straight A’s, earned the Quarterly “Star” award for outstanding achievement voted on by the teachers, made Student Council, and more. You ran cross country and excelled as 6th grader running against older girls. To say we’re proud isn’t enough.

It all kept you out of the pool between August and October. You’ve been back in the water for a month now.

We knew the meet in Birmingham would be tough. You certainly moved up in competition. You’re not “the new girl” anymore, and your times mean you’re placed in faster heats at your swim meets.

Morning in Birmingham

Morning in Birmingham

In Birmingham you swam in the middle heats of each event – not among the very fastest, but certainly towards the front. You set new Personal Records in 6 of your 7 events (swimming your 2nd fastest time ever in the other). You won your heat 50 breast stroke – your “worst stroke” after which you asked in all seriousness “Was I the only one swimming?” You took 20 seconds off of your 200 freestyle time.

You said before the season “Dad, I know it’s going to be harder this year. I’ll just do my best and work for next year.” That was the plan at least. Now, after one meet you’re only a few seconds away from a Southeastern time in backstroke. It’ll take a lot of focus to take those seconds off, but now “working for next year” has turned into “I want that time.”

Stepping up in competition makes you stronger. Champions learn that Iron sharpens Iron.

pep talk from Coach Dawn

pep talk from Coach Dawn

You never cease to amaze. I don’t talk to you about these things. You learn them on your own and I simply watch realization in your eyes and listen to the way you talk.

Swimming is hard though. Harder to parent than cross country or gymnastics – at least so far. So we listen closely to the way you talk, your attitude, your energy level. It’s demanding. We give you breaks when you ask. We don’t forget that you’re still just 11.

As much as wrestling was a huge part of my life, at 11, I still hadn’t wrestled a match in my life. You’re way ahead of anywhere I ever went as an athlete at your age.

After the meet we ate ribs at Dreamland and then you swam in the hotel pool – what else would a kid who spent the entire weekend in a competition pool want to do?

I got to visit with my childhood friends Jim Bob, who lives in Birmingham, and Jody, visiting from Atlanta, one afternoon.

Jody and Jim Bob. I've known them since 1985 and 1989.

Jody and Jim Bob. I’ve known them since 1985 and 1989.

You three came to visit me at work on Wednesday; you were out of school for Veterans Day.

merridees cookies

We had lunch at Mellow Mushroom and then cookies from Merridee’s Bread Basket in downtown Franklin.

As much as we enjoy going to swim meets, taekwondo, gymnastics, soccer, and everything else – nothing makes me happier than seeing you being kids, enjoying a day out of school with pizza and cookies.

I love you,


ps. I’m slowly starting to get back into training. I’ve dialed all of my biking and running back to zone 2 only efforts – going slow now so that I can go fast later. I need to start swimming again soon. I actually swam 1000 yards this morning. GU Energy is fueling me well with their new fall flavors: Maple Bacon flavored gel and Salted Caramel Apple chews. So good!

gu fall flavors