We've been spending a lot of time in the pool lately, much like we do every summer in this valley. When my kids were little, they went swimming so often, it's a wonder they didn't grow gills, sport scales and smell like fish.
Naturally, when my kids grew up they immediately put their own kids in the pool. The boys -- ages 4 and 7 -- spend most of their time doing cannonballs, while the girls -- ages 2 and 3 -- tell the boys to stop splashing them.
Nothing has changed.
Except that my kids never did any kind of organized swimming. They preferred yelling "Marco Polo" to taking timed trials. However my 7-year-old grandson, Bradley, has joined a swim team. And he's mastered everything from freestyle to butterfly, from breast stroke to backstroke. He practices every day and goes to swim meets once or twice a week.
I've been wanting to go to a swim meet, but apparently they last all day and Bradley is only in the pool a few minutes. So the other day when my daughter-in-law invited me to come watch him swim at a fundraiser for his team, I jumped on it.
It sounded perfect. "Put me down for a dollar a lap," I said to my daughter-in-law. I mean, how many laps can a 7-year-old kid do? Besides, this pool looked extra long. I figured he'd be out of there in four to six laps or five minutes, whichever came first.
I set up a lawn chair at the other end of the pool to show him my support -- until I was approached by the coach and
Well, rules are rules, and I didn't want to be one of those obnoxious grandparents who argues with the coach every few minutes ("Whaddaya mean he didn't touch the side of the pool? Are ya blind?"). But when five minutes came and went and Bradley was still swimming, I started to become concerned.
"A lap is up and back, right?" I asked my daughter-in-law.
"No, that's two laps. A lap is just one direction."
OMG. By my calculations, Bradley had already done 10 "laps," which actually meant he'd done 20. "Are you tired, Brad?" I yelled. "You can quit any time, you know!" "Don't be a martyr." "I'll give you a sucker if you come out now."
Nothing worked. The kid just kept swimming and swimming and swimming. The coach finally had to call time on the kids -- not one of them quit before nearly an hour had gone by. Bradley's final lap total: 44. I'm pretty sure I couldn't have done 10 without a life jacket.
"Great job, Bradley!" I said when he finally got out of the pool.
"Thanks," he said, as if he swam 44 laps every day and it was no big deal.
It was time to settle up. I pulled open my wallet and handed over the $44. Yeah, he swam -- and I got soaked. But it was worth every penny. Who knows? We may have another Michael Phelps on our hands. And it all started in our pool.
Contact Penny Warner at www.pennywarner.com.