Tears, Ecstacy, Frustration

Tears, Ecstacy, Frustration

 

As a parent … what do we do with tears after a race or a particularly hard practice? There will always be that really hard moment when a parent literally is at a loss to help their swimmer through the emotional outcome of hard work. Let me start this by saying … I haven’t figured it out yet. It’s been 9 years and I still don’t have the answers, but I can at least share some of the experiences I’ve had. It might help … it probably won’t hurt.

 

I certainly cannot judge the character or personality of my swimmer solely on the 30 minutes following a race.

My swimmer is a crier. She’s actually not a crier much in real life … but at the pool, she can be. Typically this happens after a tough race, but it can also happen after a hard-earned win. I kind of suspect part of it, with her, is adrenaline outlet. After the Super Bowl in 2014, Seahawks cornerback, Richard Sherman, had a fairly virulent outburst to a reporter after the game. A lot of people castigated him for it. As the mom of a very competitively motivated swimmer, I kind of understood where it came from. Granted, it was unfortunate it was in front of a live mic, but I understand that release after a huge competitive physical effort. I certainly cannot judge the character or personality of my swimmer solely on the 30 minutes following a race.

Sometimes competition is just plain hard. When a swimmer goes into a race hoping for something and isn’t able to achieve it, though they expended gobs of energy to try, it can be a huge blow in the moment. Even if the effort is huge and the outcome is successful, there can be a huge emotional and physical reaction after. That’s where we usually are. That is something I’ve come to understand about my swimmer and basically direct her to just get in the warm down pool and let it run its course. She can’t squelch it or she will explode. She needs to cry it out. Time settles things. I’ve had to explain this to new coaches who are taken aback by the reaction. It isn’t a flaw … it’s her way.

There is adrenaline coursing through that body and it WILL find an outlet!

The same thing is true for a tough practice. Maybe there is a concept the coach is drilling that is just not coming together. After 2 hours of hard work in the pool, the swimmer that goes to the car with me is often not my even-tempered, easy-going kid. There is adrenaline coursing through that body and it WILL find an outlet! At first I thought, as a parent, I should have the keys to turning this around. Clearly either a stern tone or a commiserating tone should do the trick. That isn’t necessarily the case. In reality, letting her vent or letting her process, however that looks, is really the only thing that works. I’m not the solution. Usually the coach or her teammates aren’t the answer. She has to process and then she will be back and ready for another day, another race, another challenge.

Perhaps by the time she is done swimming competitively I will have figured it out. Probably not … but that’s being a parent I suspect, whether in sports or life. For me the most important thing is that she comes to me … broken, frustrated, mad, sad, happy, emotional … she still comes. As swim parents we need to be the safe zone.  We aren’t the coach. We aren’t a teammate. We aren’t experts at swimming or competing. At that moment, they come to us because we are safe. We love them unconditionally and we need to admit to them we don’t know how to help them and we need to be alright with not being able to fix it. We just need to be there in the moment.

%d bloggers like this: