What is it About Swim Meets?

It’s Tuesday and it is June and that means swim meet night. I feel like such the odd bird, in that unlike other parents who don their gator green clothing (Go Gators!), I forget that it is even Tuesday, let alone remember to wear green. Truth is, that when I do realize that it is Swim Meet night, my heart sinks and I feel great dread. No one loves their kids more than I, and these are my fifth and sixth sons, but I hated it for all kids before and I still do.

Is it the “whiteness” of the crowd? The blondness of the moms? The youthfulness of the parents? Is it the cheering and yelling for the kids when they are swimming that I question, knowing there is no way the kiddo can hear their daft parent’s screams? Do any African American kids do competitive swimming? Why do I never see them? Do any other ethnic groups between blond and white participate anywhere? Is it the pure and adultered junk that everyone eats and drinks when they are at the meet that makes me cringe? The bright blue and green drinks, the corn dogs, and nachos bathed in orange slime are enough to make Jamie Oliver crawl under a rock never to emerge again. Hideous food. Am I too much of a food snob with my juice spritzers for kids and meals I make them eat at home before they go to the meet?

There is a long and tedious wait until you get to watch your kid swim and after all these years, I still have no idea what anyone is talking about when they refer to “heats” or “fly”, etc. Everyone else seems to understand just fine. Then too, I can only imagine how lame and unhelpful they all must find me, because I do nothing at these meets. Some moms are “pushers,” some timekeepers, some ribbon givers, some “spacers.” Not only do I not understand these “jobs” I never apply for them, and interestingly, my kids never win.

Then too, it is about 95 degrees or more at the meet and mosquitos and biting flies swarm during the entire three or more hours. There you are, standing at the foot of a pool, watching kids swim fast but you cannot so much as dip your toe in for relief from the North Carolina heat. Torture. If it rains, it is worse. They never call the meet. Instead, kids have to wait 30 minutes after it lightens before getting back in the water. Thus, if it lightens twice, that is 60 minutes. As if the meet isn’t long enough, now it is longer still.

I don’t feel good about my attitude at all, believe me. I am mortified that I feel this way, but I do. It all seems so silly and so pretentious in a way — like cuteness or something. The little girls in their tight Speedos and headbands and the boys dying from their Speedos that they only reveal for the swim and then jump back into their regular swimsuits. The numbers drawn on their arms with Sharpee that I question as a carcinogen and the sayings that kids write on their backs as well, all still irritate me more.

Maybe it is because I am not a swimmer and never was one, that I just don’t get this. I am not a complete grinch because I do enjoy the boys baseball games, basketball games, shows at school and more, but swim meets–not so much. I wonder if there is a punishment for moms who do not yell and cheer and wear green. If so, I am in deep trouble.