Friday, March 6, 2015

I'll Get the Next One

“I'll get the next one.” This sentence is a quote from a paragraph my daughter wrote last weekend on an Instagram post. Just typing it caused my eyes to fill with tears, as it summarizes who my daughter is - and how we should all strive to live life.


“I'll get the next one.” Sometimes we don't have to say it. Sometimes life allows us to achieve our goals. Sometimes we can celebrate or even just take our life successes for granted.

There are other times, however, when circumstances get in the way and our goals are not met. These missed goals can be of any sort one can imagine - from a grade on a test, a job opportunity, a weight loss goal, a scheduled flight connection, or even a failed recipe. Responses to these disappointments can be varied, and it is easy to give up. But, a lesson both my kids seem to have learned (and that I am learning from them) - the very best response is, “I'll get the next one.”

Swimming is an unkind sport. It is unrelenting in its demands. A competitive swimmer is no stranger to early (very early!) morning practices, cold pools, chlorine-ravaged hair and skin, and races determined by sometimes a one-hundredth of a second. The higher the level of competition, the greater the demand. In college swimming, it all comes down to a few races at the end of the season. Nothing else up to that point really matters that much. There is a lot of pressure to be at your very best on the days of the championship races.

When it comes to swimming, my daughter has had to tell herself often that she will “get the next one.” A year-round swimmer for many years, she has had seasons cut short by pneumonia, appendicitis, injuries and other illnesses. Quitting the sport she loves never entered her mind. Wallowing in her disappointment (as I sometimes have done for her) has never been her style. Although her swimming career has sometimes seemed like a series of one-step-forward and two-back; instead of quitting she just keeps working until she can finally leap ahead in a three-giant-steps stride. Watching her has been a wonderful example of how to live life.

I was in San Antonio, TX last week to watch my daughter and her team compete in their college championship meet. Her teammates broke many school records and had some terrific swims. My daughter’s first race ended on a bad note, when she snagged and ripped her brand new (expensive!) racing suit while climbing out of the pool. Whether it was related to the influences of wearing a ripped suit, nerves, or other circumstances is unclear, but her subsequent middle-distance swims were not as fast as she had hoped. Still, she and her coaches remained excited and optimistic for the mile, her best event.

Her mile swim started off with swimmers taking their marks, like any other race. And then, it happened. Immediately on impact, after diving into the water, my daughter’s goggles broke at the nose piece. Snapped and flew off her face - still caught in her cap but dangling, useless, behind her neck.


As soon as she surfaced from her dive, it was apparent that something was wrong.
She surfaced from her dive and began to swim with her head well above the water, screaming to her teammates on the pool deck to get her new goggles. They sprang into action. Goggles were offered and passed hand-to-hand, until her coach met her with them at the end of the lane as she finished the 75th yard of this 1,650 yard race. Treading water, without touching the bottom or lane lines, she caught the goggles as they were thrown to her. She whipped off her broken ones, settled the new lenses over her eyes, and resumed the race. By this point the rest of the swimmers were easily a length or so ahead of her.


I can't describe how sad I felt for her. All that work, obliterated by the snap of a thin piece of plastic. I watched her continue to swim, and imagined an increase in the salinity of the pool. I was sure her tears were leaking from the borrowed goggles (which could not possibly fit as well as her own) and mingling with the chlorine. To keep myself from crying for her, I began to watch and cheer on her teammate, who I also hoped would swim well.

After a few laps, I focused again on my daughter. The gap was closing between her and the other swimmers. I just stared at her for a while, unable to dare hope that instead of being lapped, she was actually gaining on the field of swimmers. Instead of giving up, her pace was steady. Not only did finish a race that from the start seemed impossible; she did not come in last. Her time was not what she had hoped for or even a personal best - but it was such a courageous swim that she gained the respect of everyone at the pool.



Yes. My daughter will keep this promise to her team and to herself, and she will “get the next one.” But she “got this one” too. Sometimes the victories in life are not the ones we seek.


Having goggles break is just one obstacle life can throw at us.  How do you deal with challenges and disappointments?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

24 comments :

  1. Definitely an award-winning swim!!!!! She is a swimmer with a heart even bigger than her beautiful smile!

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  2. Yes! Way to go!!!! Doing the best she could under trying circumstances makes her a winner. And to think of how it is making her stronger and more determined... priceless!!

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    1. Such a kind comment Ish - thank you!

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  3. Oh I'm tearing up here. I know what that must have been like for you as a mom Susan. Your heart must have broken for her when she surfaced from the dive. So unfair.. I am so sorry. And yet she carried on. And didn't come last. Wow. That is a true testimount to her spirit. Our kids keep teaching us don't they? She will get it next time. This is beautifully written. Am sharing.

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    1. As a swim mom also, I know that you do understand how I felt Kelly. Thanks so much for sharing this today ... and yes, our kids do keep teaching us!

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  4. Congratulations to her for a brave fight. She will indeed, "get the next one".

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    1. Thanks Delores - and yes, I think brave is an adjective that describes it well!

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  5. Oh, my goodness. They say that the triumphant are the ones who have the strongest hearts. So true with your daughter!

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    1. Yes - her heart is strong in many ways ... and not just from her strenuous aerobic workouts!

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  6. She got this one as well. Perhaps not in the way she had envisaged, but she claimed it in the best possible way. Love her attitude.

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  7. What a great outlook! Even though it didn't turn out like she wanted, I think she'll remember and tell this story for years to come. I'm glad you were able to be there to see it!

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    1. Yes - I feel very lucky to have been able to attend the meet!

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  8. Susan I read this and had to save it. I wanted to congratulate you on having such an amazing daughter, you did a great job. Her words were wonderful and they say a lot about your parenting. Great loving share, congrats again and like she pointed out yes she will get the next one! Great attitude ;)

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    1. Thanks so much for these supportive comments. I'm so glad you liked this piece Mari!

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  9. Susan, I'm so sorry that I haven't commented on this excellent post until now! I read it Friday morning and it made me tear up immediately. I know exactly how you feel, and it's so heartbreaking for us as parents when these things happen. I know how hard your daughter works, and then to have her goggles break is so unfair! She has an amazing attitude, but I'm not surprised, because you're such a great mom and I'm sure she learned from you! I love, love this whole post. Congratulations to your daughter, and I know she will get it next time!

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    1. I know you can relate to this Lana, having just experienced your son's swim meet. Swimming is like life - sometimes it seems like it is not fair. But, I am learning that even when our efforts do not pay off the way in which we hope, we benefit in many other ways.

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  10. Forgot to say - my son and I have been researching what it takes to be a college athlete. Just the fact that your daughter is competing at the college level is such a huge accomplishment, and I know you're very proud of her. I'm sure she's extremely competitive and wants to win, but it's just so awesome that she is there!

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    1. Thanks Lana - I remind her of that frequently :)

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  11. Bravo Bravo Bravo.... The fact that she KEPT on going is a wonderful look at her true self. I too am the mother of two daughter/athletes. Oldest a senior in high school and a track runner and the youngest is a horse rider. I have seen them win, loose, and come in at all other positions. What ALWAYS amazes me is that both of them always wish each of their opponents good luck before an event and congratulating after the event. I have seen my runner run right out of shoes and keep going, and a horse decide to leave an arena and a daughter bring that horse right back and finish. What does this all mean for your daughter and mine is their TRUE testament of character. Again BRAVO!!!!!

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    1. It seems as though the times we are extremely challenged are the times we remember most! Running out of your shoes - that would be a lot like swimming without goggles! Ouch!! Sounds like both of your daughters are quite remarkable. BRAVO to them and you as well!

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