Sunday, September 11, 2011


I thought I had officially killed this blog but I've realized there are still certain things in our lives that need a forum inappropriate for our pleasantlivinghome blog. One of those things is Emmy. Like many fifteen year-olds she's still searching for who she is and who she wants to become. Unlike both her parents Emmy is beginning to find herself through sports. She has fallen in with a great group of girls whose focus is more on three-point shots from outside the ring, spiking the ball over the net or swimming the 100 meter breaststroke in less than 1.30 minutes. Drugs and alcohol are so uncool and the best date is going out as a group to see a 3D slasher movie.
So now every day of the week we get up at 4:45 so I can get her to her early morning workout before school starts. After school it's back in the pool for another two hours of endurance and skill training. That puts her at school for thirteen long hours every day. I'm worn out by the time Brian Williams starts tell me the Republicans have once again declared global warming is a myth and not taxing the super rich is the best way to put food on the tables of the unemployed. Emmy continues to find extra energy in this grueling routine. Even the weekends have a Saturday morning 6am call on those Saturdays that don't have a scheduled regional or conference meet.
Most of the other eighteen girls on the team have been swimming with swim clubs or on school teams for several years. Emmy's experience comes from taking swimming lessons at the "Y" when she was five and splashing around with her friends in Teagan's pond on sunny summer days in Andes. We weren't much help when it came to getting her prepared for the team. When we got the list of equipment and swimsuit needs we took her to the big sports box store here in Madison where the salespeople barely new the difference between lycra and polyester or the breaststroke and the butterfly. Virtually everything we bought was wrong. At her first conference relay meet every time she jumped in the water her goggles would slip up to her forehead and fill with water. She had a tough time. Luckily one of the other parents told us about a little mom and pop shop on the Westside specializing in swimwear where the lady who runs the shop actually fits each girl with the proper attire and equipment, kinda like Harry Potter going into Ollivanders to be matched with the perfect wand.
Last Tuesday was her first team meet where she had all the proper suits, caps and goggles. She was scheduled for three heats. Her first was a junior varsity 200 meter freestyle relay. She was the lead off swimmer against the Monroe Cheesemakers. She left that Cheesemaker in her wake and the Monona Grove JV girls pulled off a win. Her next heat was the 100 meter breaststroke. She'd never swum the breaststroke so this was going to be a challenge. There were only three girls competing in this heat. She bounded out of the pool in second place, pretty respectable for a breaststroking virgin. Her last heat was the 400 meter freestyle relay. Of the four girls on her relay team Emmy was scheduled to swim third. The first pair of girls mounted their platforms, assumed start positions and they were off. The lead girl for Monona Grove had swum an earlier freestyle event. We knew she was a pretty good freestyler and she proved it. By the end of her 100 she had taken a good half length of the pool lead. When she touched the wall it was the number two girls chance to jump in. Monona Grove's number two girl was a little tiny girl from India. If she weighed in at eighty-five pounds soaking wet I'd be surprised. Shine, that was her name, was not a strong swimmer and that was being kind. She flailed at the water with all her might but by the end of her crawl she not only given up the lead but had fallen behind by almost a full length of the pool. It was Emmy's turn. She dove in. As opposed to Shine, Emmy cut the water with hardly a wake. Her swimming seems so effortless and beautiful. By the time she had finished her first fifty she had cut the Lady Cheesemakers' lead to half a length. The crowd was starting to take notice, especially since her Daddy had started screaming at the top of his lungs, "Go Emmy, Go Emmy!" She kept going. At the end of her third length she had caught up with the competing team. The crowd was screaming and her teammates had lined the pool cheering her on. When she finally touched the wall she had not only caught up but gone ahead by more than half a length of the pool. The final Monona Grove Silver Eagle swimmer finished it off and won the heat but the real winner was Emmy. After the meet she tried to downplay her effort but a little Mona Lisa smile belied her inner ecstasy and we, her parents, couldn't have been prouder.