The weekend was devoured by a swimming competition. When I say devoured, I mean devoured. It took us from morning to late afternoon on Saturday and Sunday by the end of which I was a melted puddle of cellulite, the spouse was tanned to a shade between well done and charcoal, and the offspring, had goggle marks that would probably be passed down to his offspring having been genetically embedded into his facial skin.
Swim meets, a phenomenon I have been introduced to, from the time I’ve become a swim parent, are a wonderful thing. Nowhere else can you see respectable women who look like they took the stiff upper lip over when the British discarded it, suddenly go native and screech-cheer for their respective offspring at decibel levels that should probably come with a “Can Be Injurious To Your Ears” warning. This is often accompanied by a fair amount of jumping at spot and burning off excess calories while they’re at it. I do the reverse, I pace alongside yelling encouragingly at the offspring who tells me time and time again that he can’t hear a thing and I am not to embarrass him in public by making a nuisance of myself and almost falling into the pool in the process. Given that it was a hot day in November, a dip in the pool would have been all too welcome never mind if I shocked some nervous swimmer in the process.
The routine at most swimming meets is, as per my minimal experience so far, fixed. Enter. Grab chairs. And then fight grim battle all day to prevent folks from hijacking your chairs. If you aren’t prepared to do grim battle to defend your territory, bring a bedsheet or a mat along to picnic out the day in the shade.
Some swimming events are held at clubs which are wonderful because –functioning canteen and clean loos. The others which are held at stadiums mandates you pack a picnic hamper full of the vitamins, proteins and carbohydrates along with copious amounts of liquids because you might not get anything edible for miles, and if you decide to try your luck and strike out bravely to forage for food, you might just miss your reporting call for the next event, and then spend the rest of the day in a funk if this was an event your offspring had a chance of proving his mettle and even if it wasn’t, the offspring will surely insist it was and begin the “All because of you…” chant on a loop, which will only be shut off once the next event begins.
Swimming meets also means sensible footwear is mandated. I, of course, wear wedge heels. I could do with the extra inches provided when I need to peer over the wall of people blocking the view to the events in order to catch a glimpse of the brat’s cap as he cuts a swathe through the water. Swimming meets also mandates that parents come equipped with truck loads of patience because kids decide to be at their sulkiest best at meets, and so sluggish that only Lucifer’s pitchfork might suffice to get them going once in the water.
Seriously though, I’m enjoying these events. It takes me out of my routine. It drains me to the bone by the end of the day, in a good, goofy smile way. It makes the boy realise he has miles to go before he can even call himself a competitive swimmer, he being among the laggards at the moment. And best of all, I get to people watch. For a writer, that is being in character sketching heaven. Sometimes it is all I can do to stop myself from staring pointedly at a person and jotting down notes, risking the very tangible threat of being hauled up as a public menace and being asked to cease and desist. December is a month that is full of swim meets. I’m going to be the one in the dark glasses and hat, skulking around, scribbling furiously.