Friday morning we drove down to London, unfortunately not for strolling around, no I’ll spend the next three days poolside. Friday sounds quiet nice, only a 50 Breaststroke in the middle session. Nevertheless that means leaving home at 9:30, driving down to London Stratford, finding a parking lot at the Westfield shopping mall and heading over to the pool. It’s the Olympic Pool from London 2012, in a beautiful building from Zaha Hadid, an Iraqic-British architect. She won a couple of renowned awards and had the nickname “queen of the curves”. For me the most beautiful swimming pool I ever see and I already saw quite a lot.
Sign-in closed 11:40 and her race started shortly before 3pm. I was calm, Breast isn’t her favorite stroke and normally she’s messing up the first race of a meet. Nevertheless my pulse raced up when she was standing on the start block and deep inside I was hoping for a miracle as always. Didn’t happen, she started proper and was ready for the turn after 25 m, unfortunately it’s long course… Tomorrow is another day and her favorite is on the list, 50 Fly. I went for a recovery run through the Olympic Park and we finished the first day with a bit shopping and a early dinner at Jamies Italien, surprisingly delicious!! Around 10ish we went to bed in our hotel room, a 14 hour journey over with a 42 second swim in between.
The second day started with the ringing of the clock at 6:30, breakfast at 7 and back to the pool for signing in and warm-up at 8. Today are three races over three sessions on the schedule. 50 Fly was the first, her favorite one. After sign in I had to wait around 3 hours until the start of this event, enough time to read a couple of chapters in my book and to chat with other parents.
After the first girls started their 50 Fly race, I got more and more nervous the closer we went to her heat. The heartbeat starts raising and the tension in my body gets worse. After the start signal I can normally barely breathe and my body freezes, I’m not one of this loud shouting moms, I’m suffering in silence for myself. In moments like this I would do everything to make her faster but my hands are tied. 32.51 seconds later every thing is over, my body is released and my breath normal, PB, she dropped 0.06 seconds, wohoo!! Women’s world record in 50 Fly is 24.43, there’s still room for improvement:-), I spare you the other two races of this day, if you like you can read this chapter again in three hours and again in another 3 hours. She has had a good day and dropped in all her three races. Shortly after 6pm we’re ready to drive home, a late dinner with the whole family and early bedtime because tomorrow we’ll be back!!
Sunday: three races in two sessions. Lazy morning with a rich breakfast at home and we hit the roads again at 10:30, traffic is light thanks to Easter and the gorgeous weather. We’re arriving an hour later in London and we’re enjoying for some minutes the warm sun and fresh air while walking to the pool. The next ours will be sticky and hot again, covered with the unique smell of chlorine. The today’s events: 200m IM (50m in each stroke: Fly, Back, Breast, Free), 100m Fly and 50m Free. Let’s see what Easter Sunday will offer us! First race: she dropped 5 seconds (!) and I was smirking like an idiot on the bleachers, ahhhh it’s such a good feeling to be on the winner side. 17:30 we survived the second race: another 3 seconds faster, really well done my sweetheart!! If it continues like this, there could be a surprise at the last one. Okay, there was a slight step back in the last race but who cares, overall a great meet with a couple of new PBs. Now I’m only focused to leave this building as soon as possible, I can already taste the G&T waiting for me at home!!
Yes being parents of a competitive swimmer means among other things a lot of commitment, a lot of strong heartbeat, persevering pleasure on driving a car, learning to spend £250 for a swimsuit and buying goggles in bulk and having a good talent in entertaining yourself while waiting on normally very uncomfortable benches. But it means also a lot of time for my beloved books, visiting places I would never have chosen to visit (thinking of good old Hickory), having time for a run at unique places, talking with my daughter about this and that while driving around (the phone’s normally dead on the way back home), meeting new people and making new friends and last but most important: Leonie’s sparkling eyes and bright smile when she dropped a second.
It’s the small things that matters in a swimmers life and I’m continually impressed with how much passion our daughter is living her sport and how much discipline, athleticism and mental toughness it takes her to be a competitive swimmer. When I was 13, there’s no way I would have had the dedication to attend year round swim practice 6 days a week, some days it’s twice a day, and some morning practices start as early as 5:30 am!
Even though it’s an individual sport, the team spirit and support they show to one another is really heart-warming. The hugs they give to one another after a messed up swim, the high fives after a PB and how they cheer for each other and help out with goggles, hats and snacks. That’s where I see that her swim friends are more than mates, it’s her second family and worth every effort!!