I'm the kind of person who skips to the conversation when reading a book.
I love swim meets.
I love the smell of chlorine, the little wet faces, the goggle lines around the eyes, the getting splashed when I’m standing near the pool, seeing the times come up on the scoreboard.
Well, except when the scoreboard isn’t working properly.
Yesterday I had a small passel of 9-12 year olds at a swim meet at Union College. It was a nice group of kids and I expected to see some good swims.
The biggest problem was that the scoreboard didn’t show the event number or the heat number. The second biggest problem was Ivan.
Ivan is a nice boy. I really like him. And he’s a bookworm.
Yesterday, he had his nose in a book.
Or rather a Kindle.
I watched him squinch up his glasses with his nose and flip through pages with the touch of a finger and I smiled. I love to read, too.
Since the scoreboard wasn’t showing events and heats, I had to pay close attention to that, so I could make sure all my swimmers made it to their events. In the very first event of the meet, one of the girls missed her heat. Ugh.
I also had to pay attention to the races so I would know what we needed to work on at practice. When I had a swimmer in the water, I was standing by the edge of the pool watching and jotting down notes.
These were the times that Ivan became a problem.
“Coach! Coach!” he would call almost as soon as I stood to watch a race. “What event is it?”
It was a fair question. He had an event later in the meet and needed to keep track. I would tell him.
But, as his event drew closer, his frequency of asking also increased. It seemed like all my swimmers had events later in the meet.
Finally, during one particular girls’ event, I had six swimmers competing, each in a separate heat, one right after the other.
“Coach! What event is it?” Ivan asked as the first girl dove in for her 50 breaststroke.
I told him.
Less than a minute later — “Coach! What event is it?”
I told him again.
“When am I swimming?” he asked.
“I can’t look it up for you right now, Ivan,” I told him as I scribbled down a time.
He held his peace through two races, then looked up from his book long enough to call — “Coach! What event is it?”
“Same one!” I called. I was feeling exasperated.
“When do I swim?” he asked again.
I turned my back on the pool. “Ivan, you’re not my only swimmer. I have to pay attention to the kids in the water.”
He squinched up his glasses at me. “But when do I swim?” he asked.
“Sorry, I’m Busy,” I snapped, and turned around, feeling all grumpy in my heart. I felt even grumpier when I realized that I had just missed the start of Hannah’s race.
I should have come up with a better plan, although I’m still not sure what that would have looked like, maybe recruiting a parent to help me.
As it turned out, Hannah’s was the only race I missed, so it was a pretty good afternoon.
Ivan even made it to his event on time.