It’s that time of year again where Emma starts to put into play, all of her practice. Over the last couple weekends, Emma has had a long swim meet and, of course like any 6 year old, a soccer game. Call me a nutso dad, but I love watching Emma compete. It’s not about her winning, or scoring a goal. It’s about watching her get out there and give her best, have fun, and be proud of what she did. She loves to “debrief” her events immediately after…which I enjoy as well. There are times that I really wonder what’s going on in her mind when she it out there. Because when I was 8, and was playing soccer, I have no clue what was going through my head…probably Leggos.
Two weekends ago, Emma had a swim meet that was a pentahlon. Now, I had not clue what this really meant. I knew it must have something to do with the number 5. To me, it was a swim meet. And watching Emma swim is pure joy. Since we were traveling from Lewiston where Jessi was racing a triathlon, where she was the overall winner (insert big smile and super proud husband here), we would miss Emma's very first swim of the day, and that would also be her very first attempt at the 100 IM. This is a race that they do a 25 of each stroke, butterfly, back, breast, and freestyle. The hard part of this stroke for a little 6 year old is the technical aspect of it. Needing to touch with 2 hands on certain strokes, stay on your back until 1 stroke on the backstroke, kicks have to be correct for butterfly and breast…the list goes on. I would forget the order of the dang race, not to mention all the stroke technique. On our way back, Jessi called Rory (her amazing coach) and told him to look for Emma and talk to her. Because once Emma found out she was doing the IM, she was a bit nervous. But after her talk with Rory, and a Dairy Queen deal he made with her, she was all set. Emma gave her all and ended up getting the 4th best time of the day for the 8 and under. Uh, that’s awesome! Her first IM and she did not get DQ’d. I’d say that’s a winner. But to get 1st in the heat, and 4th overall is amazing! Jessi spoke to Emma and she was so excited. Not for the 4th place of course, but Rory had to buy her Dairy Queen. We continued to speed home in hopes to make her next event which was the butterfly.
We were able to get there about 10 minutes before she raced the butterfly. Watching Emma race the butterfly might be my favorite. This stroke is very hard physically, and when you watch kids do it right, it looks easy. There did not seem to be any nerves with this stroke. She has done it before and it was just one length. She ended up winning the heat and she had the 4th fastest time for the 8 and under group in this stroke as well. Amazing! This was when Jessi and I were informed as to what a “pentahlon” was. Basically, the top 6 would be presented with a medal in a somewhat “formal” awards presentation. For Emma to be 6, and on a podium with 8 and almost 9 year olds, would be so exciting for her. But we did not mention any of this to her since she still had a long way to go. She dropped time in the butterfly which she always wants to know.
Next stroke for her was the backstroke. This used to be her favorite and best, but I think she likes the butterfly more now…don’t know. I love watching her start this stroke because she pushes up and off the wall and then does a dolphin kick under water for a bit. It’s pretty impressive, and then she gets into her stroke. This was an excellent race for her. Her kick was good and her arms were fast. Most kids in all the 25s are about the same for about 10-15 yards, but then all of a sudden, things separate a bit. She again won her heat and dropped time in the backstroke as well.
Emma had a little time before the breast stroke, which isn’t her favorite, but her form looks solid now and looks like she moves through the water well. Since her coach is a phenomenal breast stroker, (fastest time in the nation for div III). I think he has helped her quite a bit and has created a bit of passion about the stroke. Her stroke looked great and she won her heat and dropped time. Things were looking good. I cannot remember what her place was overall for the breast, maybe 9th?
The last stroke was the freestyle. Emma is pretty solid at this, but so is just about everyone else. She is still trying to go under 20 seconds of the bulkhead. I think she can do this off the blocks, but the bulkhead is a lot lower. She took off and swam with all her heart. Her time was fast enough to win her heat, and I cannot remember where she was overall. I think top 10. She was excited to be done, and find out that she again dropped time.
Afterward, we hung out a bit and chatted with the many great people that are involved with swimming. Jessi took Emma to make sure she washed her hair correctly so it would not turn green. Emma has a habit of rushing through this process a bit. Jessi normally goes with her ALL the time now at practice. Emma gets a little sidetracked in the locker room with talking to people and hanging out in the shower.
They were about to begin the awards, so we went to the pool. They started with Emma’s group, and started with 6th place. Emma was not really paying attention to any of this since she has never been a part of the “awards” in swimming. She races against 8 and 10 year olds…chances that she will do well overall, is slim. They announced 6th, and it wasn’t Emma. Then they announced 5th, and it wasn’t Emma. At this point I thought she was out. Then they announced 4th, and that went to none other than, Emma Thompson. She did not know what to do. She walked over there and got onto the podium, which she is familiar with from triathlons. She stood there very proud and clapped as the others got their awards too. She was so excited and proud. Jessi and I were excited and proud too. Emma loves to get recognition (don’t we all), and I know she will remember this experience for a long time. It will also fuel her for future events because she will want to be on that podium again. But I know she will want to be looking down at more people next time.
Emma on the podium
Emma with all the other winners
Jessi and I are so proud of Emma and her desire to work hard on a daily basis. She sees these challenges and meets them. She gets nervous before the race, but once she is lining up, it’s ‘game on.’ We would be absolute idiots if we thought that Emma does this all on her own. It is the support of many fine people in her life that give her the positive feedback on a daily basis. From coaches, to friends, to family…Emma seems to inspire us all, and she is also inspired by us as well. We all want our kids to enjoy something…and activity, sport, instrument, …anything. And when they do, it’s magical.
Thanks to all of you that have given parts of yourself to make Emma feel validated and appreciated. She smiles, sings, and laughs on a daily basis because she is one happy kid.