Monday, August 1, 2016

They did it!

"They did it!" was the text I sent to Kari. I didn't know what else to say and I was too exited to take the time to write anything more. I would follow up a bit later but that's all I could muster at the time.

Landon swam in his first state swim meet on Saturday. Through the summer he managed to qualify in three individual events, the most you can compete in, and his coach considered him good enough to put him on the both the A medley and free relays.

It's just summer club swimming but there were a lot of teams, a lot of kids, and some very talented swimmers competing. Looking over the seed times the night before, Kari and I both worried aloud to one another that he might be in for a difficult and humbling day. And in some ways we were right.

Their medley relay was seeded forth and they improved with a second place finish. But they were never really close to Skyline, the team that beat them. Landon started his team off swimming backstroke and swam well, one of his better legs, but the backstroker for Skyline that day is one of the very best young swimmers in the state and he absolutely demolished LT (and everyone else). VV was never able to make up the difference. You can't really complain about 2nd place in state but I so badly wanted a win for those boys and I could see they were disappointed.

Landon's first individual event was the 100 free and he swam a solid race. He was in the 2nd to last heat but dropped six seconds from his best time and moved up to finish in 8th (which I think means he medaled).  Then was the 25 back where he again swam well and improved on his best time. But there was a lot of strong competition and he finished 9th.

50 free was his last individual event. He dove in too early. Way too early. False start. Disqualified. I could see the regret in his face. He took it okay overall but I could tell he was really disappointed. So much so that I was worried it'd impact his last race. I didn't want his disappointment to seed more disappointment. I really didn't want him to let down his teammates. Maybe it was the wrong thing to say but I told him that, if he and his friends went out and won the free relay, he'd probably be able to forget all about disqualifying in one race.

They were seeded second in the free relay so winning wasn't totally unachievable. But Skyline was the team seeded ahead of them, the same kids that had beaten them handily in the medley relay, so winning didn't seem all that likely either. Skyline had also beaten them in this same race in league and Ken Caryl.

Here they are in the heating area. VV is in the middle and Skyline on the right. Even across teams, the kids are all friendly with each other, which I was happy to see.

The boys rose to the occasion and truly put together a team effort. Each one of them did exactly what needed to be done and, as a result, they are state champions! And on top of that they set a new club and state record in the 8-and-under free relay. The very fastest four boys to swim that event in the history of Colorado State Summer Club Swimming Association's state meet.

Here's a shaky video of the race. I'm kind of and self-conscious about hearing myself on these so I'm usually really quiet when filming. But this was just too exiting for me and I lost myself in the moment.  They are in one of the the middle lanes - the kid in the pink cap swims first for them and is probably the easiest way to identify them in the video. Landon swims the 3rd leg, which is typically where the weaker swimmers are placed, but it's still part of the team and it took the whole team to get this done. Swimming 3rd also gave him the opportunity to swim against the weaker swimmers of other teams, of which he took full advantage and widened the lead for his team. The kid anchoring their team is legit so, even with very strong competition anchoring the other team, it's pretty much a foregone conclusion when he hits the water with a lead. And it was. What a great way to finish the season. They did it!

Here's the results of that race. They were in lane 5 and finished nearly two full seconds better than the standing record of 1:12.78.

I took video of the other races too. Not as exciting as the final relay but included here mostly for the grandparents to see.  

Medley Relay. They are in lane 6, the third from the bottom.

100 Free. Landon is in lane 4 - two to the right from the "no diving" and the kid who doesn't do a flip turn (something to work on for next year).

25 Back. He is in lane 6, the third from the bottom. This wasn't his best race in terms of how he placed but he did improve the most in this event from where he was seeded and I was particularly proud of how he finished the race really strong and won the heat. 

50 Free. False start first. Then he swam the race anyway even though it doesn't count. 

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