the day arrived. his first swim meet. a cloudy yet warm morning, but we were at the pool two hours earlier than usual. it felt very early.
luca surprised us by jumping right in for warm-up. not only did he not hesitate, but he swam and swam and swam. 150 yards. 50 yards more than asked. 150 yards more than expected by his mama.
it is not that i didn't think he was capable. but. . . i wasn't sure he could handle it.
i prayed that his emotions wouldn't get the better of him.
i prayed for his self-control.
i prayed for a warm day to help him.
and, most of all, i prayed that i would be the coach he needed.
not the coach who will teach him the kicks and stokes and breathing and flips, but the one who will cheer him on when he succeeds and hold his hand when he is scared. the one who will push him when he is holding back and wrap the towel around his shoulders when he needs a break.
his other coaches will come and go, but i am the one who stays.
i am his first coach.
his first race was the 25 freestyle. the crowds and the noise were intense. his eyes were wide and his body tense. they called his heat and he. . . stepped back. he was not ready for this. not yet.
later he told us he was afraid he wouldn't win. he didn't know how that would feel. he didn't know what the crowd would think.
so we walked back to our chairs. playing, cheering, snacking, chatting, more cheering and more snacking.
and an hour and a half later, their 100 yard relay was up. luca, his friend jack, and two other 6yo boys we nicknamed them the shark monkeys because all they wanted to do was climb the fence. their excitement (and nerves) were so sweet.
their heat was called. first one swam. then the next. then it was luca's turn.
this time, he didn't step back. this time, he jumped in.
he swam a personal best. which really means, he swam across the pool without stopping for the first time.
it was so, so cool.
good job boys. we are proud of you.
that's more like it.