My ass and swim meets don’t mix


Last night, I took my fifteen year old daughter, Zoe, to a swim meeting, not to be confused with a swim meet.

In a swim meeting, the parents and kids sit in comfy chairs in an air conditioned conference room while the coaches explain how next year’s season is going to play out. It’s over in about twenty minutes.

In a swim meet, the parents sit on rock hard metal or wooden bleachers in a ginormous sauna where the humidity levels hover between JUST KILL ME NOW and JUST KILL ME FASTER while their kids swim or wait on deck to swim. It’s over in about three years, depending on how many heats your kid is swimming and whether or not someone throws you a lifesaver before you drown in your own personal ocean of sweat.

I remember when Zoe first started swimming competitively. It’s not as if she was born with fins or gills. Far from it. Swimming was simply a sport that Zoe wasn’t allergic to and considering she had already tried soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, dance, tennis, biking, skiing, snowboarding and running, and wound up hating them all, the proverbial well of sports from which to drink was quickly running dry. So swimming it was and lucky for us, the registration deadline had not yet expired since I remembered it on the morning of, and I had gas in my car.

Little did I know all that was involved with competitive swimming, like:

  • Kids need five pairs of goggles immediately available at all times: #1 for swimming, #2 as a backup for when #1 breaks; #3 as a backup for when #2 is left in the locker room two counties over because when your kid is asked if she’s positive she has everything she came with, she translates that into DO YOU WANT PIZZA FOR DINNER and nods affirmatively; #4 as a backup for when #3 breaks because it was used as a slingshot while the kids were on deck and no one heard you scream STOP IT from across the aquatic center because the acoustics there suck; #5 as a backup for when your youngest child secretly absconds with #4 because her American Doll is swimming the 100 fly at the Olympics in the bathtub that weekend.
  • Your kid only needs one team suit for meets, but there is no such thing as owning only one practice suit. She’ll need at least three of them: the original suit which is so frayed, worn and faded as to be nearly transparent; the second suit which is worn over the original lest the opposing team think she is creating a distraction by mooning or flashing them; and finally, an emergency third suit for when the first two spontaneously grow mold because someone left them in a big, wet, heaping pile under the laundry room sink the weekend before.
  • Swim caps sprout feet and run away away when no one is looking.
  • You must purchase a swim program at the start of a meet because otherwise you will not know which of the 952 heats your kid is swimming. Looking over the shoulder of the woman sitting in front of you is frowned upon and can get you a big, fat, dirty look which can either make you sob hysterically or yank out her pituitary gland, depending on how happy or sedated your hormones are at the moment. The program costs one arm and half a leg but it’s printed on glossy paper so you’re not allowed to complain.
  • Of the 952 heats in the swim meet, your kid will swim two. This means you will sit in the bleachers for an average of five hours so that you can see your kid swim for approximately three minutes.
  • Those five hours are just for the preliminaries. If your kid swims well, she will qualify for the finals which means you will sit on the bleachers for at least another three hours to see your kid swim for an additional 45 seconds.
  • The official USA Swimming Board of Directors doesn’t give a rat’s ass how long your ass has been sitting on bleachers, or that your ass now violently hates your guts and is transmitting laser beams of white hot pain to those guts via your spinal cord. They simply don’t care. Hence, they have deemed it to be a violation of their rules and regulations to sprint down twenty rows of bleachers while shrieking HAVE YOU LOST YOUR FRIGGING MIND? KISS MY EVER LOVIN’ NUMB BUTT, YOU INCOMPETENT BLOODY MORON and body slam the official who, after an eight hour swim meet, just disqualified your daughter in the finals.
  • It’s also against their rules and regulations to rip the whistle from around an official’s neck and perform a colonoscopy on him with it. I know, it doesn’t seem fair, does it? But I double checked this one, just to be sure.
  • The amount ofย  non-refundable money you spend on dues, fees, equipment and the like, which can approximate the gross national product of a small third world country, is directly proportionate to the amount of swim time she will miss due to injuries sustained by (1) slamming her hand into the lane line resulting in a loss of two weeks due to a broken knuckle; (2) slamming her elbow on the car door while flinging her swim bag in the back seat, resulting in a loss of four weeks due to a bruised elbow; (3) slamming her head into the opposite wall while swimming with her eyes shut because her goggles slipped off her face, resulting in a loss of two days due to a whopper of a headache; (4) slamming her right ankle against the edge of the pool because she slipped while trying to get out, resulting in a loss of two weeks due to a bruised ankle bone; (5) slamming her foot against the gymnasium floor while playing frisbee golf, resulting in a loss of three months due to a badly sprained left ankle; (6) slamming her ass against the cafeteria floor because she and her friend spontaneously morphed into idiots and pulled the chairs out from under one another, resulting in a loss of eight months (and counting) due to a broken tailbone and herniated disc.


I have no idea whether Zoe will have sufficiently recovered from her tailbone and disc fiasco to actually swim come August. She literally hasn’t been able to bend over since last October and since it’s a little difficult to dive off the block or execute a flip turn without bending her torso a little, I’m not exactly brimming with expectation.

If Zoe can’t swim, my heart will break a little for her because I know that she’ll be disappointed not to be part of something and to miss out on ribbons and medals and the general fun and camaraderie that is a swim team.

My ass, on the other hand? It will be busy draping itself in a silver lining and celebrating until the cows come home.



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28 thoughts on “My ass and swim meets don’t mix”

  1. Avatar

    Sorry, but I had to giggle about the tailbone and herniated disk. It made me think of when we always got told “It’s all fun and games until someone lacerates an eye.”

    I totally empathize with sitting through meets. I used to keep score for our swim team, and sitting in those chairs isn’t any better than those bleachers. Plus I had to call the stupid sports column guy at the newspaper afterward with the team results because they were too lazy to show up and sit through the meet.

  2. Avatar

    Oh dear Lord, I hadn’t even considered the possibility that Kiddo might someday want to swim competitively. See, at 6 years old, the only official swim-related stuff we’ve done is swimming lessons at the Y. I just know that I was inordinately pleased when Kiddo graduated from the “Mommy must cram her pale, white cellulite into a bathing suit year-round and get in the pool with the kid” to “Mommy can just sweat quietly on the benches and be thankful the lessons are only 35 minutes long” during which time I close my eyes, try to drown out the excessively loud shrieking and whistle-blowing coming from the pool, and pretend I’m in some fancy spa with a sauna. Granted, a spa sauna that reeks of chlorine and in which I’m wearing all my clothes, and which echoes with the above-mentioned sounds.

    I think I’m going to start gently steering Kiddo towards a sport that is shorter, out of doors and that I actually can follow…. I’m thinking tennis or softball….. if I start now, maybe I can convince her by the time she *can* swim competitively that she doesn’t want to swim competitively!!

    Lunch Tues?

  3. Avatar

    OMG!! Andy! i use to swim as a kid on a team. It was fun. The boring waiting on deck is awful. Rofl about the ass and entire giving the ref a colonoscopy. I feel like doing that myself to the teacher my oldest had last year.

  4. Avatar

    That’s the best description of a swim meet EVER. Seriously.

    And I hope her back feels better soon– I’ve done the broken tailbone and the herniated disk thing. Neither is fun, and to have them together is even worse.

  5. Avatar

    It’s okay, you can just do a second mortgage on your home to cover all of those goggles. Sheesh!

    I hope Zoe heals in time to be able to participate. I hate to see sweet little creatures disappointed.

  6. Avatar

    those bleachers! those things are seriously my idea of hell!! nothing worse than having to sit there till you can’t feel anything below the waist anymore and all with a smile plastered on your face! ugh..

  7. Avatar

    You’ve pretty much summed up what my friends have told me about having kids on swim teams. Sounds like fun if you’re the kid, sheer hell if you’re the parent (except for the 5 minutes when your child is actually in a heat).

    Just be glad she isn’t a cross country runner. Cross country meets are the next worst sport to have a child in, possibly. It’s hot and sweaty, you don’t get to sit down at all, you walk all over dusty rutted fields trying to catch a 5-second glimpse of your child running, and if you have a boy you have to listen to their triumphant descriptions of having barfed in the woods from heat exhaustion.

  8. Avatar

    LOL is just too inadequate for this classic post, so I nearly didn’t comment.

    But I knew I had to comment, so you know I love your blog SO MUCH, and you are TOO FUNNY, and I now appear to be SHOUTING!

  9. Avatar

    thanks for the insights to swimming! I’ve thought about seeing if my daughter would enjoy it. I’m she would, me…..

    I hope your daughter’s tailbone heals quickly and properly. That would be terrible if she had to deal with that later in life!!

  10. Avatar

    OMG! You have a hilarious way of writing. Now if I could translate all of this into “ice skating” vs. swimming, you’d have me without the sweat but freezing your ni**les so hard they break off when you remove your coat! Thanks for the laughs and the insight.

  11. Avatar

    All of a sudden, I don’t feel quite so guilty about inwardly rejoicing when one of my kids’ soccer or baseball games or practices is rained out.

  12. Avatar
    Spongemom Scrappants (Angie)

    If this wasn’t all too true, I wouldn’t be laughing hysterically now. I’ve done many seasons as a swim parent. And then this year, I got to add track-and-field parent to my resume. Same scenario… just a different sport. Yee-haw.

  13. Avatar

    I like the new header! Very fancy. So how long does this swimming thing last?? I avoid indoor pools at all costs because of the humidity factor and the subsequent afro it creates. Maybe could you bring your own lawnchair to avoid the bleachers?

  14. Avatar

    Thank goodness my daughter doesn’t like swimming. Thank goodness my daughter doesn’t like swimming. Thank goodness my daughter doesn’t like swimming. After I typed this I turned around 3 times, crossed my fingers and toes and then uncrossed them (they got stuck).

  15. Avatar

    I just found your blog, read a bunch of posts, and then promptly added you to my blogroll. You definitely made my morning with your swim meet antics. Poor daughter though. Sounds like a tough year!

  16. Avatar

    Nice Ass…

    I mean… uh.. nice assimilation of a true swim meet.
    Butt seriously, I have been to one of those and it IS torture. I don’t have the hair for humid conditions so I hope my kids take-up something that is a little kinder to my coif.

  17. Avatar

    All of this is true about swimming, its a lot of hard work for everyone involved. But I think it is truly worth it in the end. I hope Zoe can swim in august. Good luck to the both of you!

  18. Avatar

    Aside from the humidity comment, I hear the rest all too often and I think it’s a shame. Stop going to meets just to watch your kid and start going to meets to watch swimming! After all, it is something that interests your kid enough to spend countless hours in the pool. Embrace it. Get to know the sport and share it with your kid. Instead of reading the paper, spend that time at meets understanding each event: what is the difference between a medley relay and an IM, what is a fast time, who are the good swimmers and good teams. You’ll find the boredom will disappear and be replaced with excitement…the same kind of excitement your kid has for the sport. Then you can both have a positive time, and maybe even talk about it on the car ride home!

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