Having had an aversion to areas of water larger than say a clogged sink after a near drowning experience on a family vacation when I was a young child, it was a goal of mine that each of my kids learn to swim. It helped tremendously that I married a swimmer who would teach them, because those swim lessons that my mother signed my sister Jenny and I up for in elementary school didn’t help. I could not float to save my life and my failed jelly fish attempt made total sense when I discovered it was just another name for the “dead man’s float”.
Our two oldest kids learned to swim in the backyard pool at our first house in West Seneca. Moving to Lancaster in 1998, Josh would swim modified for a short while, but track eventually became his sport of choice. Emily would swim modified right up through varsity.
Sarah came along 7 years after Emily, and Abby followed 2 years after that, both learning to swim in the backyard pool in Lancaster. Panic would be an understatement in describing the first time I saw Tim holding baby Sarah in that pool, blowing into her face to get her to hold her breath and dipping her under the water. Seeing her come up laughing should have been an indicator that she would someday come to love the water.
Of the two younger kids, Sarah would be the one to take over where Emily left off. For this I was thankful, because after Emily graduated, I felt a little lost, not knowing what I would do on those fall afternoons if there were no meets to attend.
It’s ironic that someone who is not particularly fond of water would spend about 14 consecutive years watching a sport that takes place in the very environment she herself tried to avoid throughout middle and high school. I still cringe at the thought of an upcoming swim unit in gym, wondering how many notes I could convince my mother to write to get me out it.
As I write this, Sarah is in her last post season of competitive swimming. She does not plan to swim in college so for our family, this is the last time we will be sitting as spectators in those humid natatoriums with the jimmy hands trying to video record races and heart-pounding finishes. At least that is until the grandchildren come along, who knows … the love of swimming may just return through one of them.
There are so many people throughout the years who made swimming such a great experience for Sarah.
To all of her swim coaches, Brandi Bashor (Star-Lancaster), Karen Majeski (Lancaster Middle), Kristin Eberhart (Lancaster High), and especially Mike O’Connor and Delee VanMaaren (Iroquois High), thank you. Thank you for not coddling, but for giving Sarah opportunities to build not only her abilities as a swimmer, but also for those opportunities to build her character and leadership skills through her love of the sport.
To all of her teammates these past four years, thank you. Thank you for welcoming a newcomer into a tight-knit district half the size of the one she left, but more so for welcoming her into an even smaller group, the Lady Chiefs Swim Team. You were all such a joy to watch.
To the Iroquois swim moms who made all of the fundraisers, scheduling, organizing, dinners, sleepovers, transportation and apparel orders possible, thank you. Thank you for giving of your time and for your hospitality. It was truly a blessing to our family.
To my husband Tim, thank you for being the encourager of our pair. When you team up with the two of our kids who are sanguines (Emily and Abby) like yourself, you guys make awesome cheerleaders; although I don’t think I’ll miss that whistle!
To big brother Josh, thank you. Even though you only swam for a couple years, you continued throughout the years to have a genuine interest in the sport that was such a big part of our family.
To big sister Emily, thank you for carrying on the love of swimming from your Dad to your little sister and exemplifying that while swimming is a great test of endurance and exciting races, the relationships developed over those years are what really matters.
To my favorite son-in-law Chase, thank you for your contagious excitement of everything sports. You jumped with both feet in to a family where swimming was the dominant sport and showed no partiality even with your background in basketball and tennis.
A special thank you to Abby, our youngest and the child who sat through the most meets of a sport she has absolutely no interest in. You became a fairly vocal cheerleader and videographer as the years and meets went by. Thanks for hanging out with me and keeping me company until those all of those seats we had to save were occupied by Sarah’s cheering section.
So, what will I miss?
I will miss watching Sarah, who was humbled to be named co-captain her senior year of high school (an honor also given to her father (swim), Josh (track) and Emily (swim)), cheering on and encouraging her teammates through their own races.
I will miss her looking at us before stepping up on the blocks and after swimming a race, looking for her father’s special signal, her shared excitement of a potential or new best-time or her shared disappointment of not-so-great time.
I will miss the countless hours spent after each meet at home as a family (sometimes over the course of week), replaying the videos and talking about each meet.
I will miss the anticipation that came with the official’s words, “Swimmers, step up. Take your mark.” We will instead say to our Sarah Adeline as she prepares to graduate this coming Spring, “Step out and make your mark.”
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans. – Proverbs 16:3