This here is Sporty on her first day of swim a couple of weeks ago. It was a short lived swim team tenure for her. For years, Dr Fluffy Unicorn has mentioned that swim team is the best exercise for Sporty and clubfoot in general. It builds muscle and strengthens tendons with no joint impact but with me working full time, I’ve never been able to execute and commit to the everyday rigors of swim team. With this being my first summer off as a SAHM, I figured it was the perfect time to sign her up for the Jr Swim team. Sporty loves swimming and one of her schoolmates and soccer teammates was also signed up so she was super excited to start the swim team with her.
I drastically underestimated Sporty’s atrophy and loss of stamina during her recovery. Sporty is in ridiculous shape….on land. I marvel at her muscle tone (even though lack of muscle tone in the lower extremities can be a side effect of clubfoot) and her athletic prowess on everything she picks up. Except for swim. Sporty struggled to get across the pool. I seriously couldn’t watch in fear that she would sink. I had a long talk with her after the second day of the swim team about maybe we weren’t ready for swim team yet. It had been almost 9 months since she swam due to the surgery, casts, recovery. Sporty did not want to quit. I love that part of her. She refuses to quit. That’s the piece of her that’s allowed her to overcome clubfoot despite all of her setbacks. I assured her this wasn’t quitting, that we’d take the money and put it towards swim lessons to get her stronger and more comfortable in the 7′ deep end. It wouldn’t be the end of swim but a different path. Different paths are ok.
Ultimately, I told her it was her decision but I told her I was concerned with her safety in the water and I wanted her to think about it. It wouldn’t be the end of summer swimming, it would just be different than we expected. We need to recognize that she went through major surgery and we shouldn’t expect her stamina and muscle tone to be there without some work and we maybe we jumped into swim team too fast. After speaking with the coach she didn’t think it was a good fit either. And honestly, I was super disappointed with the city’s program. It was the Jr Swim team, we expected a certain level of instruction and guidance and they just dropped them in the pool and had them swim back and forth for an hour, yelling at them to keep going even when they saw the children struggling with a certain stroke. I didn’t want Sporty to grow to hate the water, to despise the sport because of a bad experience (that’s how she came to give up basketball).
Sporty reluctantly threw in the swim team towel. We walked straight to the office and signed her up for swim lessons starting the next week. We’re all happier with the change. So while I hope, throwing in the towel and moving to something easier doesn’t become a habit, I hope it helped Sporty realize that she needs to be self aware. Self aware of her body, her safety, and her environment. Clubfeet are going to plague her her entire life, self awareness is going to be key for her continued success and atheleticism.
And if I know one thing about Sporty, she’ll train as much as I let her to come back next summer with vengeance and destroy those laps on the swim team!