Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Sloane Heffernan: Swimming with dolphins

Posted July 15, 2014

I'm not one to push my kids to do something that they don't want to do, but that's not the case when it comes to learning how to swim. After all, swimming is a life-saving skill.

Our neighborhood pool has a swim team, so I thought it would be a great way for my nine-year-old to work on his swimming.

At first, he refused. But after being given the choice between swim team and swimming lessons, he reluctantly agreed to join the swim team.

We arrived at our first practice both expecting a casual introduction to the world of community swim team. I pictured the coaches working on the kid's strokes and maybe they would do a lap or two across the pool.

However, that is not what we found. The children, ages nine and 10, jumped straight into the pool and started doing laps. From crawl stroke, backstroke and butterfly, you name it, they did it with ease and speed!

For a moment, I thought we were in the wrong place. These kids looked more like porpoises than elementary students. My son didn't even come close to keeping up. He was a guppy swimming with dolphins.

I suddenly felt that angst you feel when your child is struggling. I wanted to jump in and rescue him, but I resisted. Instead, I put my reporter skills to work. I needed to find out why these kids looked like they were training for the Olympics. What I learned is that a majority of the children swim competitively year-round. Many had been doing so for years.

There was no way that my son could compete with this crowd, but surprisingly he kept going. I must admit, I would have quit on the spot. I would have jumped out of the pool and never returned, but he kept swimming.

He did take several bathroom breaks that he later admitted were taken solely to survive and catch his breath, but the kid kept jumping back in. The angst I felt was replaced with pride.

There are so many times in life when we feel like a guppy swimming with dolphins. What matters most, to quote "Finding Nemo," one of my favorite movies, is that you "just keep swimming." 

Sloane is a reporter and anchor for WRAL-TV and the mom of three. She writes monthly for Go Ask Mom.


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  • Huey Jul 17, 2014

    You're a great mom, Sloane! We raised 3 ourselves and know much of how you feel.

  • sheffernan Jul 16, 2014

    Thanks for the kind words! BGRMOM, sounds like your son is having a great season! That is awesome!!!

  • monami Jul 16, 2014

    Your son sounds like such a precious youngster. Good for him! Your children are adorable, Sloane!

  • bgrmom Jul 16, 2014

    My 9-year old son and I can certainly relate to this! He loves to swim--we did swim lessons last summer. He decided that he wanted to join a summer swim team this year. We didn't know what to expect, and our experience was just like yours. However, kids are so resilient. He has pushed himself harder than I thought he would--even doing a 100 Meter medley last night. He's even achieved one first place ribbon this season. I just keep encouraging him to do his best. Even though swimming year round is not an option for us, it is good to know that he was welcomed to the team--a team with swimmers of all levels and abilities. It is also a lifelong sport that he will always enjoy--regardless of the competition and ribbons.