The Swimming Meet
October 8, 2014
"There are two important days in a man’s life: the day he is born and the day he finds out why." - - Mark Twain
The title pretty much tells the story, but the process of getting to the swim meet is interesting. First off, we signed Matthew up for swimming lessons because we were not sure he could swim very well. We recently moved into a house that has a pool, so we thought it would be a good idea to make sure everyone in the house could swim. Yes, we have officially mastered the obvious.
We found a swimming program offered through a local organization called Disabled Athlete Sports Association (DASA). They hire graduate students in physical therapy to teach the swim classes. The instructors are all amazing and are trained to work with the special needs population. Off we go to our first lesson and it goes very well. In fact, it goes much better than we could have dreamed. Matthew even swam several laps in the pool unaided (I started to think about ways to get my money back.) My wife mentions something about no refunds, so we head off to the second lesson. Matthew is now swimming multiple laps in the pool without any assistance. The instructors are now wondering why we signed up for this basic class. Once again, I have underestimated Matthew.
This is where it gets interesting. The head of DASA mentions they have a swim team and that she thinks Matthew should join the team. After two lessons, he gets promoted! This is still a little surreal but exciting.
We take Matthew to the first team practice. Now keep in mind that he can swim but his technique is- how do I say it politely-you won’t confuse Matthew with Michael Phelps in the pool. He effectively thrashes his way through the water though. The instructors work with him to improve his form but everyone (including his dad) is amazed at his endurance. He swims 40 laps in the pool and gets out without being the least bit out of breath. We seem to have a long distance swimmer in the family now.
With some trepidation, we sign Matthew up for his first swim meet. He will be swimming against other high school juniors and seniors in the 50 and 100 meter freestyle events. While Matthew’s form continues to improve, he still has a lot of work to do on his technique. He has not quite mastered the race dive yet either. He jumps into the water cannonball-style. Fun, but not the best way to start a race.
The 50 meter race is first. Matthew puts on his DASA swim cap and prepares to compete in the first heat. He lines up against eight very athletic, muscular young men on the starting block. Even as an unobjective dad, this does not seem like a fair fight. (I guess the opposite of objective would be biased but that sounds a little negative. Unobjective apparently isn’t a word)
The race begins and everyone (but Matthew) dives into the pool. He eventually cannonballs into the pool but he is already well behind. He swims faster than I imagined possible but it’s clear he’ll finish last by a wide margin. Then something strange happens; Matthew is the only swimmer not finished yet and everyone stands up and starts applauding. I thought someone had broken a record or something but it becomes clear that everyone is clapping for Matthew. Given Matthew’s hearing impairment, he didn’t speed up or even realize it. His dad was close to tears. I was told later that it is a swimming tradition to clap for all of the DASA athletes. I have to say that is one great tradition. I think our society could learn a lot from these swimming meets.
Applauding and celebrating everyone’s achievements is something we should all aspire to. I know I do and I know that is what 100 PERCENT Wine is all about too.
Here is to celebrating your achievements!