I came to be a swimmer the honest way; it was painful to have my 8 year old daughter dust me in the pool. She has motivated me, taught me, and entertained me through the first two years of her swim career. It is truly inspiring to watch her swim, she's like a little blond dart in the water.
I have a ton of favorite swims that I can share but it's appropriate to start with her first one, the 25 back. It was her first race and we had no idea what to expect. We were in some weird town named Hercules, I'd seen the freeway exit before but that was as much as I knew about it. Finding a beautiful oasis of a pool in this town was not expected, but there it was and to this day it's one of my favorite meet locations.
CK was really nervous, I was overwhelmed, and the swimming world didn't know that she was coming yet. I gave her the advice that I give before a race to this day, "make sure you make it to the other side and don't sink." If she could accomplish those goals, she would succeed.
Well, in CK's early years she didn't swim a 25 yard backstroke, she tried her best to make it about 27-28 yards by zigging, zagging, and trying to hit each lane line at least once. But she did what has become her habit when she's doing something bad, make up for it with sheer speed. She was all over that lane and I could see the relief on her face when the flags showed up and she stopped her strokes and reached her right hand out way too early for her landing.
When she touched the wall it hit me: she was first. She had won her first heat! Her first reaction, "why are these people handing me a tootsie pop?" I ran around the pool to bring her a towel, wrapped it around her, and was overwhelmed by her smile. She didn't know her time, she didn't know she'd won the heat, she didn't know that her first race got her a B time, she didn't even know what a B time was. But she knew that she hadn't sank. And she had a lollipop.
To this day, she has that same smile when she does something great in the pool. This little smile that grows when she sees me. She's always looking for me to tell her the time or if she hit the goal, but she knows when she was fast and the numbers are usually just icing on the cake. She still gets nervous before some races (I never know when it's going to happen) and I still tell her the same advice. I like to think that the advice brings her back to that first race when she made it to the other side without sinking.