Elliott's been a sports nut since he was old enough to hold a ball. Doesn't matter what sport, when he steps on the field his face growls with intensity and his throttle gets shoved just as hard as he can shove it into blastoff mode. Ian's been right there beside him tackling many of the same sports. Only, Ian goes about it with a little less intensity, unless you count his late inning surveys of the bleachers hoping to identify who brought snacks this week. That isn't a bad thing. Just different approaches.
That's why when late this past spring Katie presented the idea of Ian joining the swim team this summer I couldn't help but envision something that resembled an out of control game of sharks and minnows waged by a few hundred 6 year olds in lifejackets. Swim team sounded way more organized and purposeful than I'd ever witnessed Ian pull off in water without soap and shampoo. But hey, go for it I told her.
So June came and Ian started going to swim practice. He and the rest of the sharks and minnows. Katie started delivering reports that Ian was loving it. I figured it had to be because he'd found a buddy who could make bubbles rise in the pool as good as he could. But Katie said, no, he's actually learning basic swim strokes and he's serious about it. I bit my tongue.
Then, last Wednesday, Ian had his first swim meet. And there it was. Standing tall at the head of the lane where the program indicated Ian Cartwright was supposed to swim the first race of his life was the face. It was on a little boy I barely recognized, growling with intensity. My double take was interrupted as Ian shoved himself off the starting blocks and sailed into the prettiest looking backstroke I'd ever seen. Please don't stop me, I'm well aware it really wasn't the prettiest backstroke ever - I now know those ropes not only mark the lanes but also herd errant 6 year old backstrokers - but in my eyes, the olympics have never offered anything so unexpectedly beautiful.
Ian confessed to being really nervous before the start of his races. But aren't our kids so often the example of overcoming nerves by simply diving in?
Ian would swim the freestyle later that evening and got surprised with a cool sixth place ribbon out of the deal. It's amazing what a ribbon can do for you confidence. He had found his sport. Ian looked forward to this week's meet with an excitement I'd never seen out of him toward anything athletic. I swear he was practicing his strokes in his sleep.
Ian picked up a ribbon in both of his events at their second meet this week, but more importantly, and this is the cool thing about swimming, he beat his times from the previous week by about 6 seconds in each event. It's nice to be a part of a sport where you compete against others, have an opportunity to help his team - the Ashland Barracudas - but ultimately compete against yourself with a drive to always improve. For me it's been fun to watch. I love watching our guys do things they're passionate about, which is obviously the case with Ian and swimming. It's the only possible reason he's not once asked "who brought the snacks this week."