Supporting swimmers

Let’s be honest about this, sports parents. It’s kind of a relief when the season ends.

Yes, the athletes are the ones diving into the water. The coaches, of course, show up before the kids get there and stay until the last one leaves.

But behind the scenes, there are parents — and often grandparents and siblings — making it possible for the contests to take place.

So it will be this weekend, for the 5A high school swim and dive championships at Kino Pool, 848 N. Horne, in Mesa. The action starts at 10 a.m. today (Friday), with girls diving, followed by swimming preliminaries at noon.  Tomorrow’s (Saturday’s) finals start at noon. You can watch it live online, thanks to the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

While plenty of friends and family members will be in the bleachers cheering for their kids and their team in the last of this season’s high school swim and dive contests, a small army of folks will make it happen.

It takes about 25 volunteers to pull off a typical high school swim meet, and that doesn’t count those who bake, buy and serve food for the coaches, officials, timers and spectators. Each of eight lanes requires two timers, another five or six work the computer, announce the meet and ensure proper scoring, and a half dozen or more are officiating, watching every stroke and turn to make sure they’re done correctly.

The parents who help put on the meets don’t do it for the recognition. And it’s not about keeping an eye on their kid, because — as any swim parent knows — these student athletes don’t really have time to get into much trouble.

Mostly, I think, it’s selfish. With two swimmers on the Chaparral High School team, it just feels good to be around these teenagers and their dedicated coaches, and so I look for opportunities to be there. There is great joy in watching my children have fun and compete and be part of something that is much more than just strokes and turns.

Chaparral is a remarkable program and we have a great opportunity to take state in our first season in 5A Division II. This is a competitive crowd and they want to win. But when I asked Chaparral parents for their thoughts about the season, they didn’t focus much on that.

“I have been moved by the Chaparral coaching staff and their commitment in developing our kids as athletes, but more importantly developing them as people,” says Sydney Mouer, parent of junior freestyler Alexis.

Chris Wallace, whose daughter Tessa will be swimming the 50 free, talked about “belonging to a team of great kids and athletes who work hard to achieve their goals.”

Sure, it feels good to win. And yes, there will be a sense of relief when the meet ends Saturday.

But no matter what happens, there is reason to celebrate. All too soon, those reasons will be heading off to college.

Mary K. Reinhart

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