It started off as an experiment, a trial and error. It ended with being a member of a state championship team.

Colin has always loved the water. The only time he’s ever cried in water was the bath the nurse gave him right after he was born. From that point, he never cried — not during any other baths, not during his baptism and not a tear from his first swim.

So, when he was a baby, we did a couple of water baby sessions at the YMCA. From there, we enrolled in several sessions of swimming lessons per year for a number of years. He always looked forward to them.

Then we hit the point where he was progressing beyond what the swim lessons had to offer, so in the fall, we signed him up for swim team.

He was a bit nervous. Practices were nearly twice as long as his swim lessons had been, and they were a lot more intense. He was quite worn out after the first few practices, but he began adjusting as his endurance grew.

He did have a great benefit — one of his best friends was already a member of the team and showed him the ropes. It also gave him someone to chat with at practice and meets.

But we were still new to it all. When it came time to sign up for meets, we decided to keep it simple in the first season. We signed up for the two Ottumwa meets and one in Oskaloosa. We were newbies at this, and we didn’t want to commit to meets two hours away when we didn’t know what to expect.

The first meet was quite the learning experience. But, the coaches and experienced parents walked us through how it worked and what we needed to do. Colin’s friend did the same for him.

The second and third meets were a bit easier, and at the following practices we found out Colin had several ribbons waiting for him. He was quite excited about that, and I think it gave him some motivation through the rest of the season.

Then came the big news — his relay had qualified for the state tournament. Our season was extended a few weeks, and we had to prepare for the meet two hours away in Marshalltown. I was going to wait until next season to get Colin the “jammers” most of the swimmers wear as he was still in traditional trunks, but I decided to get him a pair for the state meet.

Saturday, we got up before dawn and hit the road. Colin slept most of the way, and we arrived in time for him to warm up and participate in the parade of athletes.

After that, we had a long wait until his relay, so we grabbed some lunch and watched some of the other swimmers on and off through the day, watching at least two of his teammates swim to championships. He watched the All Stars from each team get announced during the “halftime break” and mused that someday that could be him. He then got to watch his friend compete in a couple of races before their relay, and then it was time to get warmed up again.

All four boys in the relay swam their hearts out. It was fun and exciting to watch. I have embraced my role as “swim mom” with gusto, as my new souvenir shirt is evidence of, maybe even more so than baseball mom. We’ll see. When it was over and we were packing up to leave, Colin looked at me and said, “That was easy.”

Sunday afternoon, once the girls’ side of the meet was over, I saw the news on Facebook that the team had taken the state title. It was a whole different kind of adrenaline rush, and I’m so proud of the team.

But I’m even more thankful to them all for taking us under their wing and welcoming us as part of the family.

Congratulation, Hurricanes! It’s been a great season, and we’re excited for next year.

— Features Editor Tracy Goldizen can be reached via email at tgoldizen@ottumwacourier.com or followed on Twitter @CourierTracy.

Tracy Goldizen is the Courier's features and magazine editor, leading production of the award-winning "Ottumwa Life" and the Courier's other magazine offerings. She began work with the Courier on the copy desk.

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