My niece, the swimmer

As a person who cannot execute a single stroke of Butterfly much less 100 yards of it, I’m wildly impressed with my sister Deanna’s three daughters, superb swimmers all. But today I brag about the one in the middle, Astrid Swensen, who successfully defended her title of Division 1 Massachusetts State Champion in 100 Fly with a new meet record of :55.4. Congratulations, Astrid! And congratulations to my sister and her husband, David, too!

Two summers ago, Astrid competed in the Olympic Trials, a thrilling experience for our entire family. Because I’d like to remember those days myself, I’m reposting two blogs I wrote about my sisters’ family and their dedication to swimming. Thanks for reading, and GO ASTRID!

Post 1:

Each of my nieces and nephews is unique, special, and talented in her or his own way, and I love and adore them all. But this blog post tells a little story about my sister Deanna’s middle child, Astrid.

In December 2010, I stayed for a week with Deanna and her family–Astrid and her two sisters, Mackenzie and Mia, and De’s husband David–in Boston, where they live, while I was touring New England for my Mamalita Book Tour. I probably don’t have to tell you that Boston in winter is cold, and I mean frigid. Even after piling on multiple layers of down and fleece, including gloves and hat, I never stopped shivering.

But every morning at 5 AM, in the bedroom next to mine, an alarm would go off. As I burrowed more deeply under my covers, I could hear my niece Astrid rustle around quietly before tiptoeing down the stairs to the kitchen, where her father David clutched two mugs of steaming hot tea. David was waiting to drive his daughter to swim practice, and had already warmed up the car.

Off they’d go, so Astrid could swim a few thousand yards, with David, himself a former collegiate swimmer, helping coach the team. A full day at high school for Astrid followed, and afterwards, for good measure, another two hours in the pool.

As any parent with a child knows, you can’t “make” someone practice like that. That kind of fierce determination comes from inside. A child either wants to, or she doesn’t. And ever since she was a little girl, Astrid has wanted to. She still does.

I find that utterly, impressively amazing.

As I write this, Astrid and her family are in Omaha, Nebraska for the Olympic Swimming Trials. Astrid’s event, the 200 Fly, will take place on Thursday, June 28, around 10 AM Central Standard Time.

Sending best wishes to Astrid, her family, and her teammates.  You’ve earned this.   ~

Post 2:

Thank you to everyone who sent positive thoughts to my niece as she competed in the 200 Butterfly at the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska this morning.

Astrid didn’t qualify, but she swam hard and finished strong. Competition is tough in the 200 Fly and my niece is young–15 years old this month. Just to swim in the same water with that elite crop of competitors was an honor in itself.

Yesterday I wrote about Astrid’s dedication–the elements braved, the miles swum–and after watching my niece today, I realized something else: We work hard, but we don’t always win. Some of us will drop out; some of us will go back and try even harder.

You don’t have to wonder to which group Astrid belongs.

Tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, Astrid will dive in the water, and log her yardage. She’ll give her all. She won’t give up.

I look at Astrid, and am inspired.

 

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