Sunday, November 8, 2009

Great Moments in Age-Group Swimming History

As the indoor season for all my little 10-year-old and under friends begins, I find myself thinking fondly about all the good times I’ve enjoyed because of them.  It’s like I sometimes say to my own children, “I’m not laughing at you, I’m laughing near you.”  And so it is with these swimmers as I record a few Great Moments in Age-Group Swimming History which have happened near me.

1)  The Who Knew DQ:  The first time Little Mr. Coach swam a 25-yard backstroke, he was disqualified -- for walking.  He was only 6 years old at the time, so I wasn’t expecting much.  But by that point, I had already been through five years of his sister’s swimming and she was a backstroker, so I thought backstroke DQs at that age were pretty much limited to turning over to look for the wall at the end.  It wasn’t like the breaststroke where raising an eyebrow at the wrong time can get you disqualified.  Well, Little Mr. Coach not only turned over, but he also decided to take a stroll.  And somebody has taken the time to formally enter it in the rules books that walking (during any race for any stroke) is a crime against the aquatic gods.  I learned something new that day.

2)  The Domino Effect:  During one meet this past summer, a chain of wrongful starts began and could not be stopped for several heats.  It started in the 6 & Under freestyle when a kid from the following 8 & Under heat got confused because there was no one in his lane for the 6 & Under heat, so he dove in when the 6 & Under race started.  Despite the best efforts of several coaches and parents, the wrong-heat starts continued through all the heats and both genders of the 8 & Under kids before order could be restored.  It’s just the siren call of the empty starting block.  Kids cannot resist it.

3)  “If Two Trains Leave Their Stations…”:  This was probably my all-time favorite Great Moment in Age-Group History.  It happened this summer in an 8 & Under freestyle relay.  Two boys (OK, let’s be real here – Great Moments almost always happen with boys) were poised on either end of the 25-yard pool.  Boy #1 was swimming lead-off.  Boy #2 on the opposite end was the second leg.  The race starter gave the command, “Swimmers, take your marks…BEEP!”  And in went Boy #1 and Boy #2. 

It took a few seconds before the crowd realized the two boys were swimming straight at each other, and then the screaming began, trying to stop them.  They never heard the crowd.  But miraculously, the boys somehow managed to not collide and they safely reached the opposite sides of the pool and then the whole relay was disqualified. 

Someone said to me, “I wonder what they thought when they went past each other.”  I’ll tell you what they thought.  One of them was thinking, “I hope they haven’t sold out of sloppy joes at the food stand yet.”  And the other one was thinking, “Maybe if I promise to eat a baggie of grapes first, Mom will let me get the Sour Patch Twizzlers.” 

You know I’m right.


  1. LOVED THIS ONE!!!!! Here's one for ya.......How about the 8 and unders who change lanes!!!!!! Without using their turn signals no less!!!!! I love to see the look on the stroke and turn judge' faces when this happens......Sort of a surreal looking 'Did I see what I just saw'

    -The Famous Falcon-

  2. I saw that one once! That takes some serious push and wiggle off the wall to end up in another lane! Good one!

  3. My personal favorite took place when I was in the 8 & under age group. My friend was DQ'd for some offense, and when the official went to tell her at the end of her race, she started jumping up and down and clapping. After, she came over to us and explained "That guy said I got DQ'd...that means I get to go to Dairy Queen now!"
    We never let her forget that day.

  4. That's hilarious! But I hope somebody took her to DQ!

  5. These were great Mrs. Coach!
    If you want to see some really Great Moments, watch an Age Group vs. Masters meet! You will have the uber-competitive 40+ y.o. male who will not be beaten by some punk age grouper. Or me, who false started on one of my events. I guess it dispelled the myth that grown-ups never make mistakes for some of the little ones!

    By the way, I just saw Mr. Coach mentioned in an article about David and Usman's Channel for Peace initiative! It appeared in the Nov/Dec issue of Swimmer (the official magazine of old people swimming)


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