Family Moab

Family Moab
In Arches National Park

Sunday, February 27, 2022

State Champions and the Joy of Victory

Our girls won the 5A (large school) State Championship swim and dive meet in record-breaking fashion, scoring 502 points in the first 500+ team effort ever. They also set a state record in the 200 free relay, racing jaw-dropping splits that left us coaches speechless. I hit the watch on our last swimmer and could only turn to the other coaches to show them, mouth agape. Our late-night (until 2 am) coaching strategy meeting and the emotional outpouring we saw from our swimmers and divers kept us teetering from calm and purposeful (in front of the team) to hyped-up, stressed out, and tearful in our small huddle on the side of the pool. 

Impossible to watch the uplifted faces of our athletes when they realized their victory and not get choked up -- the girls were leaping into the air, embracing, taking photos, and weeping by turns. I hugged three normally stoic swimmers as they staggered around the deck, crying into their chlorinated, wrinkly hands. Teenagers have been through hell the past two years, and I can only imagine the release they felt at swimming a full State meet for the first time since the pandemic started, able to see friends, teammates and family and share their joy with one other. 

I mean, the pandemic's been hell on everyone, but the young people have had to shoulder heavy loads that are disproportionate to their short experience and limited perspectives. Now, only ten days after our glorious win, the teenagers have to face alarming headlines about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Putin's mad fallacy that going to DEFCON status will advance anything positive.

For two glorious days we could exist in a bubble of sport, a "good" bubble that we chose, and watch the girls work hard and play hard in the most uplifting way. True, I came down to earth and back to my other four jobs with a jolt, wading through pages of emails and creating multi-page to-do lists of tasks that were forgotten in the weeks leading up to State, but it was absolutely worth it. Even though I'm now obsessively busy with my "replacement" work, I can't help but wonder what our journey will look like next year.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Unstoppable Girls, Swimming State This Week

 "I'm unstoppable / I'm a Porsche with no brakes / I'm invincible / Yeah, I win every single game / I'm so powerful / I don't need batteries to play / I'm so confident / Yeah, I'm unstoppable today."

- "Unstoppable," song by Sia, lyrics by Braide Christopher Kenneth, Furler Sia Kate Isolbelle

Class 5 A (large school) state championships for girls' swimming and diving are Tuesday and Wednesday of the coming week, red-letter days that have been on the calendar since I started my assistant coaching job in October. We have thirty-one athletes qualified for State, and as defending champions, we are ranked in the top three teams.  Taper, or rest, has been the focus of practice for the last little while, and the girls have more energy, alternatively bouncing off the walls or coming to us with concerns about their upcoming races. 

I remember the knife's edge of taper from my teen years: Am I rested enough? Am I too rested? Why do I feel sluggish? Will I feel good on meet day? Those questions chased each other around in my head like the cats bounding after each other down the hallway. These days I don't swim enough to really need a taper for my rare meet days, I might stop biking and lifting weights for a week or two but I don't need the rest our girls need after heavy training this season. We blow sunshine at their questions, tell them to stop overthinking and trust their training, but we know it's difficult to do.

The state championship swim meet is the most exciting meet I've ever been to - both the girls' and boys' editions. Last June, when William's boys' team won State and he broke a state record with his relay team, was perhaps the best sporting day of my life. I'm excited for the girls to swim, hopeful that they will all achieve goal times, and full of desire to be helpful, supportive, bracing, or sympathetic by turns.

If you're not around teenagers in this pandemic era, you may not realize how traumatized some are by social isolation, social anxiety, loss of life milestones, loss of learning. As coaches, we want swimming to be fun, an escape from the headlines and homework, girl drama and family pressure. But we also want to do our job well, to push girls past perceived limits in the pool. to encourage resilience and dreams and hard work. I have ten playlists for the girls' practices, some hype, some calming, some intense, and our favorite this year is our "Girl Power" playlist, which has the song by Sia on it. I hope the girls are unstoppable on Tuesday and Wednesday, I hope they are fierce, that they have fun swimming fast.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Family Laughter

 I have my family tree behind the computer monitor and can see the top portion with all my siblings, their spouses, nieces and nephews behind the Google tabs on the screen. Rob and Aden designed and ordered the tree, which has handy birthdates (with year!) in the bubbles with the names of said nieces and nephews. We have eleven on the Clavadetscher side, and when birthdays come fast and furious I need to refer to the birth years to correctly calculate the number of dollar bills that should go in each card. 

Fortunate to have many supportive branches on that tree, I reached out to siblings and spouses yesterday with an ask to please read my blog. I was trying to achieve a PR of 2,000 page views for the month of January, forgetting that my last entry leaned heavily on menopause and menarche (or lack thereof). So when my brother, Mike, responded that he had obediently checked and read the blog, he texted, "just read about my sister's cycle being way off. Winning all around." 

This made me laugh - noteworthy on a weird day when the Tri-County Board of Health voted to end mask mandates this weekend (including in schools) a mere three weeks after they benched our swimmers for ten days after a positive COVID tests because "they can't wear masks in the pool." The rapid changes in societal rules literally give me whiplash.

Another funny incident from this week: Rob kindly did the dishes for me after I cooked pasta on Sunday night. He left two pans to dry near the sink, and when I strolled by on my way to a cup of tea, I pointed out that soap still ran down the outside of the pasta pot. "It doesn't matter," said Rob, "it's on the outside. No one cares."

I dropped my mug in disbelief. "Anyone who has ever washed dishes would care! You have to get soap off both sides - that's the point of rinsing."

We exchanged dish-related barbs for a few moments and I don't know if I convinced Rob, but I'm still in a bit of soap-related shock. When sharing this anecdote with a friend, she commented that she had recently read an article on the subject, so apparently there is an open question in the kitchen world on the harms of soap suds drying on the outside of a dish. I know which side I'm on - I may not care which way the toilet paper unrolls but I care about clean dishes; it was my chore growing up and I'm fairly intense about that (and a clean sink, right Mom?).

Anyway, my friend and I got a good laugh out of the story and that makes everything worthwhile. Keep laughing, friends, we made it through January and can all hope that the situation improves from  here.