Last fall, my 15 year old son (who is on the Autism spectrum) informed me that he signed up for the swim team at school. At the time I had very little knowledge of what occurred at a swim meet as I have never been to one. To be honest, I was quite surprised that my introverted son, who has never played a school sport in his life, was even interested.
We attended the coach’s informational meeting and talked to veteran swim parents for guidance. He was enrolled in a few swimming and diving classes to polish him up a bit. I read extensively on safe snacking diets that helped keep energy up without making him feel too full to swim. A trip to Dick’s Sporting Goods (well honestly, a few trips) was in order. Finally, he was set and ready to swim.
As we move through the season, I see my son progressing in a lot of ways. He is swimming at a faster pace, eating healthier and even wanting to hit the gym to strengthen his body. However, the most appealing progress I have seen is in his attitude. He is an athlete now and part of a team. His teammates are a second family to him. They reach out and high-five each other (and opposing teams as well) before they even get out of the water. Basically, he has reached a whole new level of confidence due to the positive interaction with his peers and the amazingly caring attitude of a great coach.
My husband and I have even volunteered as timers and we have seen first-hand the wonderful sportsmanship qualities these swimmers have. They are competing against different schools, their teammates and themselves; keeping up a good moral by encouraging each other.
I love that my son loves swimming so much, and is surrounded by people who have made such a great difference to his life.