The State Girl


Our daughter, Ella, has been involved with competitive swimming for the last three years.  It’s been a really good outlet for her and a good learning experience for JJ and I.  I still have a hard time correctly reciting the order of an IM event (where swimmers swim each of the four strokes in one event) but luckily I’m not the one in the water.  At eight years old, Ella has a really good grasp of when to touch the wall with two hands, when to do a flip turn, when to do dolphin kicks etc.  In contrast to my daughter’s abilities, someone would literally have to hold up a sign for me indicating when and when not to drown if I were the one in the water.  The level of detail associated with swimming events in a swim meet is right up there with correctly filling out a tax return, preparing for a graduate degree exam and/or programming a DVR.  I’m sure this jumbled up mess of imagery is just another sign of the ADD I’ve been trying to hide (unsuccessfully) for my entire life but you get the picture.  Swimming a series of events is complicated – it takes practice, discipline and a gruelling amount of energy and time.

Every year swimmers in Oregon compete in events scattered at a variety of locations throughout the State.  These events are scheduled at the earliest time possible in an effort to truly expose those elements in society known as “non-morning-people” of which I would count myself a card-carrying member.  I would argue that even Navy SEALS would have a hard time waking up so early.  The swim meets typically last all day and swimmers normally have a maximum of three events they can swim.  And as your son or daughter is about to leap into the water, you realize that this moment, this time, this event is when all that work, discipline and effort is about to be put to the test. 

Each event has a set of standards associated with it based on the age of the swimmer, the distance of the event, the stroke etc.  The goal of swimmers at the various events is to get a time fast enough to be considered an “A” time – one that will qualify them to swim at the State level against the fastest swimmers in the State of Oregon. 

Last weekend Ella swam four events at the last meet before State events start this weekend.  And, in a flourish of skill and power that would make Michael Phelps proud, our daughter had “A” times in four out of the five events. 

Wish us luck – Ella has qualified for a total of seven events at State this year.  It is our first experience and we’re all looking forward to it.  Even if it means waking up at 4 AM.

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