In defense of "every kid gets a trophy"

There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again. ~Elizabeth Lawrence

For the King girls, that garden is rather a swimming pool. The girls both swim on our neighborhood swim team, and the whole experience is a very big part of our summer. Summer is a big part of our life, so it is fair to say that swim team is a big part of our life. Luckily this season, we enjoyed a visit from Nana and Daddy Doug and they got to experience a swim meet. Daddy said, "there is no way you could have ever explained to me what a big deal this is!" Indeed, swim team is a big deal, which makes us feel like our kids' swimming is a big deal.

This was Anna Cate's fourth year swimming and in all those years, she has never hesitated to go to the early-morning practices. For the past two school years, she participated in swim team lessons twice a week. She loves everything about the sport -- the swimming, the friends and the coaches.  Anna Cate is not the fastest swimmer, but she is strong and knows the strokes.  
She often wins her heats in the B group, but during the summer she asked to join a more competitive year round team with the plea, "I really want to be pushed Mom." So we are joining that lifestyle. 
Molly was the youngest kid on the team.
(photo above by my friend Jen Ognek, swim mom, team photographer)

Neither Anna Cate or Molly are the fastest kids or will their swimming determine whether we win a meet or not by their points accumulation (they don't even give points in 6 and under), but the feeling that they are part of team as they simultaneously find victory in personal bests make me think that this "every kid get a trophy" sentiment is not so bad! The girls get ribbons every time they get a personal best or win a heat. Anna Cate won several heats; Molly won one.  

 In addition to all the fulfillment the kids get, BJ & I have enjoyed the sense of community. Every family has to volunteer at meets and it is a great opportunity to meet new people and share in the journey.

At the end of the season, every kid gets an award with a personal story told by the coaches about each swimmer. Molly received "the Little Engine that could" award because she dropped over 30 seconds off her 25 meter time. Anna Cate got the early bird award (her Daddy gets her to practice). They both beamed, and I'm so thankful they have this opportunity to swim and be a part of a team. While the fast kids get a really big trophy, every swimmer does get a trophy to commemorate the season and the child's participation in it. Molly was so proud of hers she took it on our annual trip to Tennessee to show her grandparents. 

 Summer swim team is such a big part of our life and of Anna Cate and Molly's childhood. I'm so grateful they have these opportunities to experience community which celebrates all the children who participate. In many ways, it is a little haven of all the harsh realities of life where all kids don't get a trophy or an award.

“Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.”

Here are more images of our summer swim team experience. 

Swim 2014 from Sarah King on Vimeo.


Stacy Laine said…
I always love your blog... and I LOVE swimming!!! My kids are on swim team as well (summer and the girls do developmental on a US team year round)... they are neither the fastest or the strongest, but they are determined and proud. Swimming is such a fun and intense sport and it taught me SO much as a swimmer for 12+ years. All 4 will be swimming next summer. I can't wait!