Thursday, February 4, 2010

Over the years I spent a chunk of time with kids in stadiums and gyms, on fields, and at pools, most of the time, just sitting. Jason was a swimmer. Parents of swimmers who are sprinters follow their kids all over the country to sit for two days or more to watch at race that’s over in 20 seconds. Something is just not right about that.

One year Jason had an after school schedule conflict so four mornings a week he worked out with the older kids before school. He wasn’t driving yet so I joined several other parents in the bleachers who spent the hour and a half drinking coffee, reading newspapers, or sleeping.

The coach decided to offer a senior competitive program and opened up one workout lane for interested parents. Senior didn’t mean you had to be senior citizen discount age to participate, you just had to be out of school. I was tired of sitting, so I signed up. I’ve never worked so hard in my life.

With my family’s encouragement I entered my first swim meet at 34. I had been to countless swim meets, but I’d never competed in one. I climbed on the blocks and while waiting for the start I thought I was going to hyperventilate and pass out. I don’t remember much about the race except my arms feeling like lead. I won my heat and you would have thought I had won an Olympic trial. What a sense of accomplishment!

I learned an interesting lesson competing in the senior swim program. Watching a swim meet and swimming in a swim meet are two entirely different things. Even though it may look easy, until you are in the water you have no idea what it’s like.

We are so quick to make judgements about people and circumstances. Most of the time we have no clue what it’s like to be in the middle of things we analyze from the sidelines. Just like armchair quarterbacks go on and on about the way things should have been done in a ball game we scrutinize people and situations.

So next time we’re tempted, instead of making a hasty assumption, let’s jump in and swim a while first.

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