Tonight was the end of an era.
Our daughter, Gabrielle, made the choice as a third grader to join the local swim team instead of playing softball.
Tonight, she saw the water for the last time as a competitor.
She missed out swimming in the youngest group (where you get ribbons!), and spent three years toiling with very little recognition. As one mom said, “That’s a real test of character. Most kids would have just rolled over and quit.” Not my daughter.
She continued to push herself to get better, and found that she had a natural ability at breast stroke. There were two very good breast strokers in the age group above her, so she watched and learned (not the best of role models, but you do what you can).
Freshman year of high school hit, and she stepped WAY out of her comfort zone, and swam for the local high school team. For most kids, this would mean driving maybe across town. For Gabrielle, it meant a 35 minute trip one way, practice, then return trip home. She was blessed with two tremendous mentors that year. Katy, from our school, was who Gabrielle rode with the entire year. We’d gotten to know Katy through the summer swim team, and she convinced Gabrielle to take the plunge (pun intended) to join up. Katy was a four year letter winner and state qualifier, and ended up swimming in college as well. Gabrielle was paired up with Taylor, a beast of a back stroker, and a sweetheart of a girl. Taylor was able to keep Gabrielle focused on the positives she had on the team, because at that point, Gabrielle was the slowest girl, period. Taylor helped her find her voice on the team.
I thought about Katy and Taylor tonight as we finished up the meet. We had a chance to see Katy at a fair (we show Brown Swiss with them) and saw Taylor last week at another meet. They are amazing girls and I believe that with their influence, Gabrielle did find her voice, and her place on the team.
As we drove off, I looked over at her, and remembered her last high school meet, where she realized that she wouldn’t be going on to the regional meet. She cried, which is pretty big for my daughter and was pretty heartbroken to be done. Tonight, there was a sense of “it’s over”, which made me a little bit sad. She’s going to Europe at the end of the week with a group of Iowa band and choir kids, and with that, will leave swimming behind. While I’m sad to see this part of her life end, I know that she’ll accomplish great things because of the things learned as a swimmer.
And as a dad, I can’t argue with that, even if it does make me a little misty-eyed.
Thanks for reading tonight. I do appreciate it. 🙂
June 29, 2016 at 6:33 am
Sounds like your daughter is quite a gal, in terms of perseverance! It’s hard as a parent, to watch them move forward and leave those experiences behind. My sons finished high school basketball and football three years ago and I still miss those times with them.
June 29, 2016 at 6:59 am
I really enjoyed reading your post. It sounds like your daughter, Gabrielle, and her mentors have been winners in all the ways that count–especially those that don’t award ribbons. You must be so proud! By the way, I totally understand your misty-eyes as the landscape around my house has been suspiciously blurry with increasing frequency over recent years!
June 29, 2016 at 7:35 am
My kids weren’t swimmers but the ones I knew had experiences like those you describe in your Slice. Sad that this chapter ends, but what rich experiences your daughter had.
June 29, 2016 at 4:59 pm
At first I thought the era was softball, but as I kept reading, I realized the era was swimming, and you bookended it with softball and a European trip. Nice presentation. I paused when I finished the read and thought of some of the era endings in my life that have faded into beginnings, giving rise to new eras. Thank you for stirring my memories.
June 29, 2016 at 7:01 pm
What a sweet story. I loved how you chronicled the end of an era and the beginning of a new phase in your daughter’s life. Enjoy all of these stops in her life. Each one of them will bring you infinite joy.
June 29, 2016 at 9:06 pm
Beautifully written-your daughter will treasure this story. 🙂