By Jeanne Martin

Q: I don’t know anything about summer swim teams. My son is six and likes to swim so I was thinking of signing him up. Is he too young?

A: Oh, I miss the days of quiet innocence before I knew anything about what “team sports” entailed for my children. Visions of healthy, well-rounded kids and you, their steadfast champion, standing beyond the finish line, your arms raised in a “V” as they run to you, ahead of all of the others, falling into your arms, victorious...

WAKE UP! You’re dreaming. Snap out of it.
Swim Team is about as much fun as a lip waxing. As I see it, there are two main problems with this summertime sport. One is swim practice. The other is swim meets. Let’s start with swim practice. This little slice of Heaven starts at about five o’clock in the morning. If your child is very young, you might get lucky, and practice will start at 5:15. Swim practice season begins before summer starts, which means that it is still kinda cool in the predawn hours and the water is downright freezing. So your child will turn blue and his teeth will chatter and he will beg you not to bring him back. Ever. But fear not. The heat is coming… like it’s been violated and is a guest on Jerry Springer. It is hostile and angry and it will make you pay at the swim meets.
Swim meets. They last about five hours, the hottest hours of the day, mind you. And here’s the worst of it: You’ll spend half a day at the pool, and you can’t take one measly Nestea-plunge. Even your child will only be in the water for approximately four minutes total, assuming that he swims all of the events and can make it across the entire pool without having to be rescued by life guards.
Some kids are naturally strong swimmers and are therefore fun to watch in competition. Others, like my son, look more like a kiwi bobbing in the water, hoping that the wake from the other swimmers will push him down the lane to the shallow end so he can walk to the finish (this walking “stroke” will earn him a disqualification from the judges, but it’s not like he was a contender anyway). Now I’m not gonna say that the kids don’t look a-dor-a-ble in their little matching suits and gigantic goggles flailing and gasping their way down the pool. I’m just saying they can look just as cute dressed like that in a $29 above-ground inflatable in your backyard which is conveniently located near your couch, air conditioner and prescription medications.
And if I have not yet driven my point home, let me lay one more fun fact on you: Swim meets are typically held at three in the afternoon... on Wednesdays. So if you have a job/a life/any other children, this may rule you out as a candidate for swim team mom. But if you should find yourself unavoidably stuck at a meet, remember to apply a truck-load of deodorant and bring non-perishable food items and a flare gun, because you are in for the long haul.
Luckily, there are plenty of summer sports that you can sign him up for that are not as hellacious. Tennis is a nice sport and they don’t make you go to tournaments unless your kid gets really good and then they will want you to get a second mortgage and start home schooling (okay, maybe not a good example). There’s also summer soccer, lacrosse and T-ball—all kinda fun, if you like mosquitoes and sunburns.
My favorite type of summer sports? Those played at sleep away camps! Just imagine: in a few years you can pack your little love-nut up a trunk filled with bathing suits and sunflower seeds and send him off on an adventure. Some of these camps have horse-back riding, swimming, fishing and overnight camp-outs in the woods. Sounds like hell on Earth, I know, until you realize that YOU are not the one that has to do it with him! Boo Yah! You will be the one back at the house shaking up a few martinis and catching up on “The Walking Dead” on TiVo.
Man, I love summer.

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