I just entered Chopstick into a meet at swimconnection. I've done this before, it's not that unusual. In fact, many months I do it 3 to 4 times. But this one was different, this was the Junior Olympics. It's always funny telling non-swimmers that, because the Junior Olympics sounds very impressive. And it is but not as impressive as they think it is.
But back to the entry. I paused for a bit when doing it, reflecting on how proud I am that she made it.
Back at the "last chance" meet in the fall, she had just turned 9 and could smell the JOs. She was about .6 seconds away on the 50 back and about 1.5 seconds on the 100 back. To qualify and not have to worry about qualifying again for the next 2 years, she just had to drop that amount. And she swam her tail off that day on those 2 backstrokes. But she ended up missing the 50 by .01 seconds. You read that right, point zero one seconds. She missed it on the 100 by .20 seconds. If they hadn't called it the "last chance" meet it might not have been so difficult but it really bummed her out.
Flash forward to her next meet, the first one of the winter session. She knew that she could drop 0.01 seconds and holy toledo she did, dropping 0.33 seconds. I did my usual trick of writing the accomplishment on my hand to show her and her smile was HUGE. It's funny what I remember from that smile is her braces, I had never noticed that she picked cool colors for them. Then, as she was standing in line for her ribbon, I went to check the official results to doublecheck and saw a different set of letters than I expected next to her name. Not JO but DQ. She had done an extra little kick right before her flip. Aarrgh. DQ's don't usually bother her, but not on THIS event!
For this past weekend, we both just tried to squash all expectations. She doesn't swim well at frigid meets and this one qualified. Cold, wet, dreary, miserable, and did I mention wet. She hopped in the pool for her 50 back, had a great start, a great turn, and a perfect finish. I finally got the nerve to look at the scoreboard....38.93! So, I drained all emotion from my face, got my best deadpan going, and said, "it's not just a fast meet for you" as she walked back to me. I didn't get her this time, she had already looked at the board and knew she had it!
So, we composed ourselves and started toward the warmdown pool. And, then it happened. I looked over and saw a white-jacketed official walking towards the timers with a DQ slip. We watched and he went straight to her lane. I told her not to worry and to stay right there; I ran over to him, looked over his shoulder and saw, "heat 5" on his slip. Chopstick was heat 6! Success! It was official, my daughter is a Junior Olympian!
After our heart rates went down, she went to warm down. I congratulated myself on an excellent gene pool and she went for her post-race debriefing. Her coach had seen the time too and said that he knew she'd get it. I didn't want to thell him, but he apparently was the only one who knew that, he could have clued us in.
All this reflection happened very quickly while doing the entry for the JOs but it was vivid. Chopstick had some hurdles on this one and like the trooper she is, she overcame them. And now she's entered in the JOs.