Editors Note: This is the last article in the seven week series written by Stina. We’ve enjoyed reading each week, thank you for your contribution.
By: Stina Oakes; Photo Credits: Tim Male
An older Foot gives a pep talk to a younger swimmer just getting in the water. As the little Foot swims down the lane, the older one walks along the side, cheering and encouraging him along. At the end, the Big gives the Little a high five.
A six-year-old IMer approaches the wall after having swum butterfly down and backstroke back. He stops at the wall for a second and asks, “What next?” “Breast,” the Timers yell and he pushes off the wall.
This morning is Daleview’s Mini-Meet: a meet run by the older swim team kids for the younger ones. There are Timers, but no Stroke and Turn judges, so no DQs. Each heat and age group has winners. By the end of the meet, everyone has ribbons and has successfully made it through their races. But, more importantly, the older swimmers are the Clerks of Course, the Timers, the Starter, the Referee, the Runners, the Diner servers, the Ribbon Writers, the Set-up and Take-down crew. They’re in charge.
Watching these scenes, at first I’m struck by how naturally the Bigs take on their roles. But when I think about it more, I’m actually not that surprised. They’re just following in the footsteps of their previous Feet. But, in reality, it goes even deeper. Just as the Littles learn from the Bigs, the Bigs have watched their parents. At the Mini-Meet, kids take on the roles their parents do every week, signaling their transition from Littles to Bigs and, ultimately, to the adults they’re becoming.
- Maura Cahill, mom to Sarah (16), Claire (18), and Emma (21): “Daleview is about the kids.”
How long have your kids been on the team? Since Emma was 6, so, a long time. My kids are pool rats.
Favorite Daleview tradition: There are so many. I like when the seniors cover themselves in shaving cream and cheer at Relay Carnival.
Favorite Diner food: Since we’ve been on the team, the Diner has changed so much. It used to be just candy and junk food. But now it’s so much better. I guess I’d say the salads.
Favorite Volunteer role: At first it was timing. Then the Diner. I liked doing Kids’ Night. But now I enjoy timing. I’ve come full circle.
How do you describe Daleview to outsiders? It’s one big community. The kids learn how to take care of each other.
What has Daleview taught your kids? Camaraderie. Tradition. But, most importantly, how to adapt to changes.
What has Daleview taught you? Everyone has to pitch in to make it work. Being on the team is about tradition and the kids.
Favorite memory: When the team wins a home meet they all jump in the pool. I love seeing them all play in a big circle. Last year they took a swim cap, stretched it out, and put a kid inside it. That was pretty amusing.
- Lynne Haisley, mom to Olivia (12), Scarlet (10), and Coltrane (8): “There’s no other community like Daleview. They’re my family.”
How long have your kids been on the team? The oldest one has been on for five years. Then the others just followed. We never did pre-team though.
Favorite Daleview tradition: The Braveheart theme. It’s so iconic – they get to run around and it’s about loyalty.
Favorite Diner food: Vietnamese iced coffee.
Favorite Volunteer role: Running the B meets. I was asked to do it, so I did. And it’s great.
How do you describe Daleview to outsiders? Family. Community. Team spirit.
What has Daleview taught your kids? How to be really good people. There aren’t many places where kids of such different ages hang out with each other. And loyalty and friendship.
What has Daleview taught you? Having my kids on the team brought back the joy of swimming. I swam growing up, but I got tired of it. Being here has reminded me of what I loved about it. The support and strength here is like no other. I see most of these people only over the summer, but this community is stronger than any other.
Favorite memory: This summer. Everyone has supported me and I can talk to anyone here. Recently we lost my brother. The support I’ve gotten here has been overwhelming. My brother was a swimmer and a coach. This season has made me feel closer to him. I don’t want this summer to end.
- Jeff Hopkins, dad to Edie (21) and Wes (19): “We weren’t swimmers when we joined Daleview, but now we are.”
How long have your kids been on the team? The kids started 14 year ago. Wes graduated from the team last summer. (Jeff is now the captain of our adult Master’s team.)
Favorite Daleview tradition: The Daleview band playing the Star Spangled Banner.
Favorite Diner food: Pulled pork sandwich. And fresh squeezed orange juice. (It should be noted Jeff started this popular favorite.)
Favorite Volunteer role: Running the Daleview Diner with my wife, Becky, and good friends.
How do you describe Daleview to outsiders? Family.
What has Daleview taught your kids? How to have friends of all ages. How to swim beautifully. How to bounce back and how to help others bounce back.
What has Daleview taught you? The importance of, and some strategies for, building a community.
Favorite memory: Senior recognitions during the last A home meet of the season. Each senior and their families are acknowledged. Then they lead a last cheer with the team. A wonderful tradition.
Now that you’re on the other side of the swim team experience, what would you say to new parents? Just say “I will do that” when the call for volunteers comes out. You will be so glad you did!
- Mary McCarthy, mom to Declan (12) and Maisze (6): “Once a Foot, always a Foot.”
How long have your kids been on the team? Six years.
Favorite Daleview tradition: The cheers. I swam with Daleview as a kid. They’re still the same cheers. Some of the people I swam with also have kids on the team. When the kids cheer sometimes we just glance at each other and smile. We’re all so proud to be Feet.
Favorite Diner food: I don’t think they still have it, but the gazpacho was amazing.
Favorite Volunteer role: Timing. You get to see all the events up close.
How do you describe Daleview to outsiders? Best team ever.
What has Daleview taught your kids? Loyalty. Determination. Sportsmanship. Pride.
What has Daleview taught you? The value of community. And tradition. I see my kids having the same experiences I did and that’s amazing.
Favorite memory: My favorites are from when I was on the team. I loved playing “Ditch It,” similar to Hide & Seek, in the woods behind the pool with neighborhood kids. I remember lots of running in the woods. There were always lots of kids of all ages playing together. There still are, which is what’s great about the team.
- Simon Park, dad to Eli (17) and Clare (14): “I can’t think of another circumstance where kids of all ages spontaneously playing together happens organically.”
How long have your kids been on the team? Eli, our oldest, started when he was 8 years old in 2008. Our daughter Clare started a year later at the age of 7. Eli had a couple of buddies already on the swim team. His third-grade teacher, Ms. Rawson, was the head coach and that sealed the deal. At first he could barely get across the pool using a variety of unrecognizable strokes. He loved going to practice and hanging out with his friends at the pool. He said that swimming felt like “flying” and he was hooked.
Favorite Daleview tradition: The poetry parents write for the graduating seniors which includes limericks, haikus, parodies of song lyrics, odes, and obscure forms. We have a surprising amount of literary talent among our families.
Favorite Diner food: Either the fresh-squeezed orange juice or the Vietnamese coffee, both of which produce the kick I need early on a Saturday morning.
Favorite Volunteer role: I have been a timer, clerk of course, automation coordinator, and A meet rep. My favorite job is clerk of course (of course!). Although it is a frantic experience, I got to know the names of every swimmer and the 3 hour meets seemed to fly by.
How do you describe Daleview to outsiders? Swim team season is like a nine-week long cult. If you drink the kool-aid, it can consume you, often to the exclusion of other activities. At the end of July, it’s suddenly over and you feel empty inside. After a few more months, you can’t wait for Memorial Day weekend when the next season begins.
What has Daleview taught your kids? You get better at something by working hard in practice. And the harder you work, the better you get.
What has Daleview taught you? I used to be huge sports fan of the local professional and college teams. Watching my children swim for the Feet, I came to realize that the intensity of my fanaticism for my kids’ teams dwarf whatever emotions I had rooting for laundry (Seinfeld reference).
Favorite memory: After home meets, there is often a sharks and minnows game at the deep end of the pool. Boys and girls, ages 7 to 16, of varying sizes and swimming ability, are spontaneously playing together.
The Daleview spirit is fostered and encouraged by the parents who bring their kids to every practice, volunteer at the meets, arrange social events, cheer them on, and console them. Our kids might be the swimmers, but, as these parents demonstrate, Daleview is a family team.