Swimming In The Rain - Well Almost

Emily Lilyestrom

Swimming In The Rain – Well Almost

Last night we held our Superstars meet – the Divisionals meet for the majority of swimmers on this team.  In fact, it is often said – perhaps just Kingfish lore - that there are kids swimming in Divisionals who are willing to give up their spot – just to get one of those BIG horse ribbons at Superstars.  I don’t think we had any of that last night but what we did have was a fun-filled celebration of what it means to be part of this great team – the Kingfish.  And what better way to end Summer 2021.

Wednesday night over a summer.  Two things you can depend on – a Kingfish meet and rain.  And rain it did last night.  Just enough to get every swim bag and towel laid out in the team area soaked.  Just enough that our announcer had to brave the droplets, wrestling not one but two umbrellas, so as to keep our audio equipment from getting soaked and shorting out.  And just enough that some standing on deck could be heard saying, “You know, as long as we can see the bottom of the pool, we can swim.”  And almost like magic, we heard that very announcer:  “The meet is on – timers, officials, swimmers, we are good to go.”  Not the launch of Blue Origin or Virgin Galactic, but close enough.

IM is always fun – from the astonishing 12 & unders up to our 15-18.  It gives you the opportunity to see persistence defined, as was demonstrated by Ethan Kiang on that last leg of Free, looking for that extra gasp as he turned his head to the side for air.  And Freestyle allows everyone to test his or her swimming skills because after all, it is Free.  One of my favorite swimming memories – watching Kasey Anderson do her flip turn on her 50 Free and come out swimming Backstroke, with a smile. Because that is Freestyle defined and that is Kasey.   And to Jacob Gross, the sheer glee he experienced because he not only got to swim Free last Saturday, but again in Superstars, scoring a green ribbon in the process.

Watching the youngsters swim Backstroke allows all of us, softly and in unison, to speak the mantra “don’t turn over.”  And when they do, there is a sigh expressed by all.   But that swimmer will return and try again, because that is what Kingfish do.  Backstroke for some of the 15-18 year old girls, one in particular who is near and dear to my heart, looked like water aerobics - roll left, roll right, pull under that water.  And then we have the 15-18 boys – a beautifully choreographed swim until that one-swimmer speeds up at the wall so as to out touch his teammate.  It was as though they met the day before just to practice their synchronization.

Breaststroke and Butterfly – often referred to as the back half of the meet.  This is where the crowds sometimes thin and the youngsters cannot be found.  The back half – daunting to the younger ones on the team because of those strokes, the frog kick of Breast and the entire stroke called Fly.  But not for our Kingfish.  The heats were full and the swims were rewarding, right down to Events 47 & 48 – which gave us the final Kingfish swims for a number of our seniors.  The applause was loud and well deserved.  You will be missed!

The Superstars meet is so much more than swimming.  It is about getting to the pool at 4:45 for those 5:00 pm warm ups, cutting into a “normal” family’s dinner hour.  But no problem for the Kingfish because we have our Kingfish Kafe.   The best restaurant in the MCSL, hands down. 

It is about kids swimming, knowing that because place ribbons go out to 12, they might very well receive one of those BIG colorful ribbons.  And then they pin it to their suits and parade around deck with a proud, beaming smile, a cement pool deck transformed into the red carpet.

The meet is about family – and not just the family sitting on the bleachers watching their children and grandchildren swim, but the family swimming against each other in the pool.  The Dourgarian, Ingrassia, and Goettsch sisters and the Godman, Parra and Flaherty brothers swimming in the same heat, sometimes even side by side, because they are finally in the same age group and event.  Never has a congratulatory handshake meant so much.

Superstars is about a rain delay – when the Kingfish microphone is passed around on the veranda as swimmers express their opinions – some frustrated others elated with the delay.   A rain delay during which some were able to partake in conversations that otherwise would not have happened, simply because they were stationed under that umbrella.  A rain delay that reminded many of us just how much fun it can be to swim in the rain, whether it be the Pacific, the Atlantic or, for some, the Mediterranean.   Last night we settled for a swimming pool.

And it is about the conversations.  The ones we have on deck.  The ones that we only have on a Wednesday night.  The conversations about what we are all going to do once the season has ended – family vacations, sectional swim meets, and the teary eyed one about those swimmers heading off to college.

That is a Wednesday night swim meet called Superstars.  It brings finality to the season for many.  Most will return next year with many already talking about Summer 2022.  And for those that will not be returning, we all leave with incredible memories that cannot be taken away and certainly will not be forgotten.

What an incredible team – every part of it!