Chopstick's first 9/10 meet was this weekend. She had been really excited about aging up, looking for new challenges and a new set of goals. We had talked about the lack of ribbons she was going to encounter and all seemed OK.
Usually when a kid ages up, they go through the procession of C division, B division and then A division so they're not immediately thrown into the ranks of the fastest kids that are up to almost 2 years older. But Chopstick had already achieved the A division in all but the breaststroke in every distance that she'd already swam. So, basically, she was stepping in against the sharks.
She responded well in the pool, continuing to drop time in all but one event this weekend (including a very unexpected 2.7 seconds in the 100 free). But I don't think she was prepared for what it looks like on the results sheet to be 20th. Swimming a time that a week earlier was a PRT and a lock for 1st, 2nd or 3rd was now 20th? She handled the first one well. The second time it happened, she let out how much it bugged her. She's part pissed and part sad. Both completely understandable.
Now, I'm not the type of parent that says "harden up kid" or "oooh, it'll be alright" with a big hug. I go for solutions. The first one, to Jeff Gilooly 19 kids didn't seem practical so I went to option 2. Pretend these are preliminaries and consider your position in the finals. 20th is 4th place in the C final. Not bad for a kid who is 9 and 4 days. Next goal is the B final (she got that in one event, forget which one). Basically, we're creating a few more arbitrary divisions for her even if she doesn't get a real ribbon. It seems to work for now.
But, until then, she still has breaststroke, her favorite B division haven. She got 1st and 6th place ribbons in those events. Unfortunately, in the 50, she's now A division and in the same old predicament.