Sunday, February 27, 2011

When a Kid Listens

If you are a parent, you will understand what this entry is all about. Listening. Why, God oh why, is it so hard to get a child to listen? Actually hear what is being told to them? This same child, who can run back and forth on a playground for hours at the age of four, can't then respond to a simple verbal command. It is as if their brains can only have one stimulus at any given time. And even then, if said stimulus is asking to pick up their clothes, the brain seems to simply reject the message as inappropriate.

The Boy® is now 10. In fact, he turns 11 in April. We still have verbal exchanges like this.

Dad - Did you wash your hands?
Boy - Yes.
Dad - Did you really?
Boy - Actually, no.
Dad - Can you go wash your hands now?
Boy - Yes.

Three minutes later when the Boy® fails to appear at the dinner table, Dad finds him in his room playing with his Nerf guns.

Dad - Um, did you wash your hands? Dinner is ready.
Boy - I was going to.
Dad - Well, do it. Now.

Two minutes later the Boy® arrives at the dinner table.

Dad - Did you wash your hands? (You parents know what is coming, don't you?)
Boy - Yes.
Dad - Good. Did you use soap?
Boy - Yes.
Dad - Let me smell your hands.
Boy - OK, I didn't use soap.

Brain damage. Not the Boy®. I don't think he is brain damaged. But I know after ten years of rearing him, I am. Maybe Bill Cosby said it best.

Bill Cosby: A person with no children says, "Well I just love children," and you say "Why?" and they say, "Because a child is so truthful, that's what I love about 'em - they tell the truth." That's a lie, I've got five of 'em. The only time they tell the truth is if they're having pain.

This past weekend was the Minnesota C-Finals Swim meet for 12 & Under. The Boy had qualified in four events: 100 IM, 50 Fly, 200 Free, and 100 Free. The first three events were Saturday. Even though he has achieved C qualifying standards in those, they are his weakest events (let's not even talk about breast stroke, OK?).

He had a full set of braces installed on Monday. For two days he basically moaned and wailed about how much his mouth hurt. And I could totally empathize. He also ate very little all week as he couldn't master chewing with 150-yards of wire in his mouth.

Friday night he probably got a little stomach bug. His mom (aka the Well Kept Wife) told him told suck it up. He was swimming and that was that. Saturday did not go well. He was slower than his PR in all the events. Significantly slower.

Sunday, I pulled him in for a 1:1 discussion after breakfast. Actually, he came to me. He wanted to know how we would handle the 100-free. Him coming to me....good sign. Meant he was ready to listen.

As his event was not until a little after noon, I had allowed him to sleep in. We then hit our local club and I had him do a easy 500-yard warm-up. I noticed (again!) that his flip turns were really too early. He was missing ample opportunity to get a big push off from the wall. So, after his 500 warm up we chatted about taking 1-2 extra strokes so he could have a tighter turn.

I had him do a couple of starts off the blocks, going hard for 25 then easy return. We worked a bit more on the turns. He was getting it. Receptive, and getting it.

On the way to the meet, we then talked about strategy outside the start and turns. We decided to try and hit about 19-20 secs for the first 25, then hit 20-21 for the next 25. And here's where I changed things up a bit. For the third 25, I asked the Boy to treat it as if that was the last length. To kick like crazy. I used the words Controlled Chaos to emphasize that while I wanted him to let it all hang out on that length, I did not want him to lose his form. Then, simply hold on for the last 25.

I warned him that the body will say, "No more! I'm done." And at that point, the mind's response to the body must be, "No, we are not done yet."

In the end, he finished on the podium with a 3rd place finish. His splits (approx) were 18.4, 20.6, 22.5, & 22.5 for a 01:24.77. B standard is 1:25.49. He had been knocking on that door, banging loudly in fact, for three meets now.

For a second or two, I wasn't sure he was going to get it. But he did. Bettering his previous PR by almost a full three seconds. Take a look for yourself (lane 4, orange googles/black swim cap). He didn't just knock on the door. He busted it in.

But that's not even why I was so happy and proud. I was happy and proud because he did everything I asked him to do. And isn't that all a parent or coach wants?

Next up - AB Finals on March 5 & 6, where he will the 50 & 100 free and 50 back.

1 comment:

Adam Beston said...

Ever thought of having him breath every stroke? This has been the biggest breakthrough in my swimming. I breath towards the same wall every length so that my body is balanced. Good enough for phelps is good enough for me. You will also notice that during ITU and IM Hawaii all the pros are swimming this way. Here is a video showing that it can look good. Physiologically during a 50 you are better off not, or during the start of a race but after only 30 seconds is when it catches up to you. Just something for you guys to think about. That first 25 was very nice and it only slowed a tad over 50 but then the next ones were guts.