|Maddie (right) and her buds do Kids on Parade.|
|Maddie with teammates and coaches waiting, which is what a meet mostly involves.|
|Pool is full of warming up swimmers.|
|Maddie backstrokes around another swimmer.|
|I know nothing of this. Swear to god.|
|Swimming can be painful, especially when you work at it as Mads does.|
|Maddie is in the chair at the left (in blue) awaiting her first heat ... ever. Looks relaxed. Don't be fooled.|
|Up to the board she goes.|
|At the ready.|
|And she's off with good form.|
|Maddie reaching in the butterfly.|
|Maddie at the wall: goal achieved. She finished!|
|Maddie (lower left) with her mom and grand parents (and brother Oz) with the big crowd at Read Mountain. Her coach, Annette Patterson --who is wonderful--is at the lower right.|
I had not even a shadow of an idea how big this stuff is. You can see from the overall shot above--before everybody got to the meet--that it was packed. I'd say there were 2,000 to 2,500 people at the meet at the smallish Read Mountain Swim Club in Botetourt County. Multiply that by the number of swim meets in the Roanoke Valley Monday--I'd say four or five--and you get attendance numbers our professional baseball team would kill for.
It appeared to me that each team had maybe 100 swimmers and each swimmer had a family entourage of several people. It was a mob scene and I loved the look on the face of the people selling concessions (for CHEAP, something I wish the baseball team, which sells a 15 cents bottle of water for $3.50, would note).
Maddie was nervous from the beginning and the emotion bubbled over during warmups when she was working on her strokes--which she's improved on geometrically in a week, but which need work--and trying to navigate a packed pool. She was crying when she finished her workout, nervous, scared and full of anxiety. She wanted so much to do well. We sat and talked for a few minutes and she seemed more confident.
Her first stroke in her first competition was the almost impossible-to-swim butterfly and she finished her lap--last, but she made it all the way. She broke down again, I'd guess out of relief and by then her mom had arrived. A few minutes later, she was jabbering with her buddies, high-fiveing and being a full member of the team. I think she grew about seven inches today.
I was proud of her. At least when I wasn't showing my own case of nerves. I keep telling myself, "It'll be alright, Pampa. It'll be alright."