Sunday, November 14, 2010

swim/catechism training {huh?}

If we're not home, there's a good chance we're at the pool. This year is the first year we have all three kids on year-round swim team. Previously, Anna was the only year-round swimmer, while Grace and Ryne swam only on a summer team. But this year we thought the timing was right for the younger two to swim year-round. Our neighbor, who years ago gave our kids private swim lessons in her backyard, was returning as the beginner group's coach, after having taken a year off. Ryne loves her, and she works so well with him. We would never have dared tried swim team with Ryne if it hadn't been for her support and encouragement. The other major factor was that Anna moved up a level for practice groups, making scheduling all three kids easier. They often have practices at the same time, whereas if we had done this last year they would have been on alternating nights.

Since it seemed like things would work out logistically, we decided to give year-round swimming for all three kids a try and so far it's going well. I feel good that Ryne and Grace are getting regular exercise, doing something they love. For now, we haven't signed Ryne up for any meets. We might try one in December, but for the most part we're just focusing on improving skills with him right now.

Grace, however, competed in meets the last two weeks. She is having an absolute ball! It is so funny to see how different she is from her big sister. Take the pre-race routine, for example. Anna is so expressionless when she's behind the blocks, while Grace is dancing, chatting, giggling, fidgeting, etc. See for yourself the difference . . .

Grace does eventually get focused enough to compete, but even then she has a faint grin on her face.

To Anna's credit, she does smile every once in a while.

But mostly Anna is all business at the pool. She has goals to meet.

Anna is known by her coaches and teammates for being an extremely hard worker. I can count on one hand how many practices she missed last year. It is not uncommon for her to be the only one from her practice group at a 5:15 a.m. practice (yes, you read that time right). She is great about setting challenging goals and keeping focused on those goals.

Yet, for all that hard work and motivation, she has had a lot of disappointment. She continually sees kids younger than her getting faster times (some of whom seem to not work very hard in practice) and she can't break into that top group of swimmers. Her main goal for the last year has been to get an "A" time in her breaststroke events. This summer she missed it by one stinkin' second in the 200 meter breaststroke. It was heartbreaking. I just held her as we both cried. Everyone wanted her to get that time. But she pulled herself back together and said she was going to do it in the fall for short course season. She turns 13 in January, and will have new time standards, so her goal was to get her "A" times in the 50 yard breast and the 100 breast before two big championship meets in December.

All fall she's been getting closer and closer. Two weeks ago was her last chance on the 50 breaststroke before the championship meets. She was seeded in the fastest heat, so we knew she was going to have some great competition. It was a beautiful race -- she had a great start, her turn was awesome, and she finished in 6th place behind some amazing swimmers. And her time?

She missed it by .01 seconds.

The smallest margin possible.

Surprisingly, she didn't cry this time. She didn't even look that upset. She knew she swam a great race, but this time the clock won.

The tears did come a few days later and she even talked briefly of wanting to quit. I did my best to be encouraging, but frankly I didn't know what to say. I was having trouble answering her biggest question: Why?

But after a few days of prayer and contemplation, she and I had a mini catechism lesson. I asked her to tell me the first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism.

Q: What is my only comfort in life and in death?

A: That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ . . .

We then discussed that swimming is just a sport. Our comfort is not in an "A" time, but in Christ.

And then we discussed the first question and answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Q: What is the chief end of man?

A: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

So we talked about how we are to glorify God in everything we do -- even swimming -- and listed specific ways she could do that. We talked about how it is right to be thankful and to praise God in all circumstances, and that God often uses trials to teach us valuable lessons. I think our catechism lesson helped us both to get our priorities straightened out. : )

And that brings us to Saturday. Her last chance in the 100 breaststroke. Again, she was seeded in the fastest heat. She wrote the time she needed on her leg, and repeated it to herself as she waited to swim.


Just like the previous week she had a beautiful race, this time finishing 5th.

But I'm telling you, that clock took


to post her time.


Finally, her time flashed on the scoreboard.

1:22.19 -- exactly!

I made Marc tell me it was the right time at least three times. Anna just sat in the water with her hand over her mouth in complete amazement.

Now the danger of a post like this is that we start thinking that God rewarded us for promising to be thankful no matter the outcome. This race had a happy ending, but it could have easily gone the other way. So we will have more discussions in the coming days. The thought did cross my mind that perhaps God gave her the exact time she needed (not a fraction of a second more) to keep us humble. She will be seeded last at the Level 1 championship meet, because anyone with a slower time didn't qualify for the meet and can only compete at Level 2's. Whatever God's reasons, we are thankful for the outcome and even more thankful for the reminder that without Christ, everything in life is meaningless.

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:8)


  1. Wow, what a good post. You're the best encourager today. What a great job you did training your sweet Anna, teaching her important truths in a real-world setting. I think that is what real discipleship is all about.

    Congrats to her for persevering and praise the Lord for enabling her to reach her goal! :)

  2. **Congratulations, Anna!!!!**

    And thank you for sharing this wonderful post, kellie-- I know *exactly* what you mean... the goals, the triumphs, the disappointments, the 5 am training sessions (just this morning, in fact :). It's a wild & crazy ride... and thankfully, it's one that's filled with opportunities to share His love and to dwell in His mercy, His comfort, and His grace.

    Rejoicing with you guys today!! And congratulations once again :)

  3. WHY do your posts always make me tear up??? You are such a gifted blogger! CONGRATS to Anna!! Tell her we are very happy for her!

  4. Thank you for sharing. I love teachable moments like that build up the faith of our children by applying it to their everyday lives.

  5. So very glad that you are able to journal this journey for Anna so that she can always remember these valuable lessons! It's so nice to see how God is teaching her & growing her through something she loves doing!