Wednesday, August 14, 2013

County wide swimming competition

Last Tuesday, of last week, August 6th was the big day! The day of Branden's swim meet/ swimming competition. This is the big one! A once a year type thing, where all of the elementary school's top swimmers in the entire county gather and compete. And mass wise/land wise this county is huge! So many small cities and countless towns all within the county all showed up to participate. And that was the day, the day in which everyone had been anticipating and practicing for! Also, since Branden is in the 6th grade, this is his last year he is allowed, to participate for this. This is open for 4th-6th graders only.
All of the swimmers had to practice and get used to this pool and water temps. But since there are so many schools, they shared a lane with 3 other schools at a time. Branden's school was in lane 2 doing their warm ups, with 2 other schools at the same time. The teacher and coach in the black polo type top and white shorts was Branden's 5th grade teacher last year and swim coach this year.
Last year this swim meet was at a different school. This year it was held just as far away from our town granted, but at a much nicer pool and area. The funny thing is, last year we could sit anywhere we wanted as long as we didn't go into the pool area/pool side. But this year we had picked a nice and comfy spot on the other side of the pool (K-kun's mom arrived early and saved it for all of us : ). And another school went and got an official and asked K-kun's mom to move! Needless to say K-kun's mom was not pleased at first, but she is super nice and she was over it in no time! : ) A few of the mom's from our school were also sorta upset at first, though to be fair, they did let it go after about 5 minutes or so though too, because they wanted to have a nice day and are like I said, they are really nice ladies, so they didn't let it ruin their day at all. As for me, I really didn't care where I sat, as long as I could see the kids swim in the pool. Plus we were actually sitting right next to our kids, so I was fine. But yeah interesting that this year, the spots were reserved and our particular school is so small they gave us this little strip of an area pictured here. To be honest I could sort of understand why. I mean if a school with 40 kids in the swim team, then clearly their parents need a bigger area to sit. So I could sort of get that. And there were only 8 of us from our school swimming and only 2 dad's showed otherwise just us mom's. And only 3 siblings total, Noah included. Wait S-chan's mom just had a baby, so 4 kids total that day, but the baby is under 3 months old so doesn't need a seat yet. So, I could sort of understand the reasoning behind it. But yeah look at our tiny area they gave our school. lol! Those 2 mom's next to Noah, both have 5th grade daughters and they swim for the same swim club Branden and Noah do, and they take the swim bus with Branden and Noah also.
The kids doing their warm-ups. Branden smiling and talking to his good friend Keita-kun.
One of the 5th grade girls from our school, then Keita, then Branden.  Also, when you're put into this type of environment, you see the bond these kids get, while being at a swim meet type thing. Our 8 kids all hung out together all day, they were representing the same school, they were all on the same side, same team. And you could see the other kids felt that too. The camaraderie and bond these kids get, while there, is so obvious.
Branden and behind Branden is K-kun. By the way, K-kun's mom is so funny anyway she told us all, that if her son does well, she had promised him yakiniku. Her and her husband and his ichinensei sister would all go out to celebrate having yakiniku. Please don't forget this yakiniku story for later in this post! : )
Saya-chan in the pink goggles and pink cap, she also swims with the boys and takes the swimming bus. I like Saya-chan so much, she is so adorable and cute and just a real good egg, this girl. They went on their summer vacation the week before for a few days, and they went to Bangkok. We heard about it during lunch that day. : )
K-kun's foot on the #2 spot, yep, our school was still doing warm ups. Also the lady in the white Roxy shirt and black capris is Branden's 6th grade teacher right now. And also the 2nd swimming coach.
Branden about to dive in the #2 spot. The rest of our school standing behind Branden.
Final words before it was about to begin from the head swim coach from our school.
Branden would be swimming in 3 races. Out of all 8 kids, on our team, Branden swam 3 races where the rest swam 2. 1 swimming style, plus the 200 meter freestyle relay, is what the rest of our swim team swam. Branden meanwhile, was swimming 2 different styles plus in the 200 meter relay also. So he was asked by the coaches to compete in an extra race because of his speed and quality of that swim style, and he said yes, so he's been practicing like crazy for weeks basically. And out of all the kids in our team Branden would be swimming first, then K-kun would swim next in a different race and then Branden would swim again. And then he could relax for a while and cheer on the rest of the team. Meanwhile the rest of the team would be swimming during that time. So he knew, he needed to go on pretty much right away! And he knew that beforehand though and he was ready. So here in this pic, they were getting any last minute instructions.
Our swim team in a huddle, 4 boys, 4 girls. The other people behind them where from another school entirely.
Standing to start the opening ceremony.
Branden's first race was in about 5 minutes from this pic, and I could see he was starting to get into the zone. His pre race zone face.
First race of the day was the kid in the orange cap in front of Branden. Branden was in the 2nd race of the day, but first for our school. Kids who compete next, must be sitting directly behind to get ready.  These races are short, Branden swam this in 39 seconds. So the races don't last much longer then a minute, pretty much.
Branden's turn is just about to happen. Any last minute adjustments to your goggles or swim cap should be done right now.
Branden just about to dive. Each lane needs a "watcher" and each watcher needs to keep count of seconds and time with not 1, but 2 stop watches. Any disqualifying move, the watcher must wave his hand, toot a whistle or do something. You can see the watchers in the seats of each lane. Plus so many other people with stop watches, walking and pacing the pool every race.
See, that guy in green with stop watch clapping, boy, he came out of nowhere right? : ) There are time takers and watchers all over. Pacing back and forth all day long. : )  Also, it's hard for anyone to get bored because the races are so short. Branden's first race of the day was finished in this pic. They may not exit the pool until they say, "swimmers please exit the pool", unless it was the relay race of course. In a blink of an eye, Branden's first race was over! 1 down, 2 to go! : ) Lane 4.
Holy guacamole! Gee that was fast! : ) And now Branden is waiting to swim in lane 2.  Branden did tell me, some official said to him, didn't you just swim? Are you okay to swim again? Branden said he was!
These kids wiping down the diving area, are younger grade elementary swimming kids, who wish to compete when they're in the 4th grade, but for now, they were helping. And so they make sure the 1,2 and so on areas are nice and dry so the swimming competitors don't slip. Good kids, nice kids! : )
The kid drying Branden's area, he swims at the same swim school as Branden and Noah. So if you are a swimming kid in this county, it is a small world, meaning everyone knows everyone in some form or another. : ) And Branden did tell me they spoke when they were allowed to. This little boy is a very good swimmer for what it's worth. : )
Go Branden go!!!! : ) The other mom's from our town were screaming and shouting for Branden. We were screaming for Branden. Heck, every child who goes to our country school we cheered for loudly!
On your mark, get set...go!
And the 2nd race is over for Branden, right as I snapped this picture! Yay! 2 races down, 1 to go! Eeek, so exciting!!! Also, it's important to say, these 2 races Branden swam, he came in 2nd place each race, so he did really well and we were so proud of him!
Branden leaving the area and heading back to our school's area poolside.
Branden looking a little relieved, super happy and also probably feeling slightly physically tired. A rest, is well deserved. That man in pink was a coach for a different school entirely. :  )
Keita-kun playing with Branden a bit. Telling Branden, you did it, you did it! OMG, I have to swim still! So the mood at the sidelines was light and fun, the ones who swam and got it over with, felt relief, the ones still yet to swim, felt slight butterflies a little, I think. : )
Yep, such good friends! : )
Swimming towels and thermos, much needed poolside. : )
Noah cheering on his brother and rest of our school swimmers! For what it's worth, you will never guess who was sitting next to us, the ladies on the right of Noah... the ladies standing. They were from the other elementary in our town. The smaller of the 2 schools. The school with a population of like 30-40 kids total school population. Only about 4 kids were swimming from our sister school. But we mom's greeted them and they us. Especially since the 2 elementary schools merge into the 1 junior high in our town. : )
The girls 200 meter relay, our school swam in lane 4! The girls did so well, they made it to the finals for this!
The boys turn for the 200 meter relay. K-kun went first, followed by Branden 2nd, and Keita 3rd and Kouki 4th. They did so well, they went to the finals, they came in 2nd place. So this was to be Branden's final swimming event, but he/they did so well, the boys relay had to compete in the finals. So good thing, good thing. : ) And they were so excited about it though! Right after this event we would all be breaking for lunch. However, I did take a few pics of this relay and a short video. Also, important to say videos this year are harder to show because the person doing the commentary kept saying such and such school in 1st place, such and such school for 2nd place and so on. That it's hard to share a video without all the talking. But, I did manage to get a short clip with no commentary about names of schools etc. : )
K-kun about to dive. In the video below you can see Branden ahead of the other lanes. Branden is on fire! This kid is swimming super speed! K-kun also swam super speed!
Last swimmer Kouki in the water waiting to hear "they could exit the pool". These boys fought hard! They swam their butts off! The screams, the cheers, the clapping, don't laugh but yeah it was sorta intense. And when they awaited the person on the loud speaker/PA system announce which team made it to the finals, more cheers erupted. : )
Keita smiling, we were all smiling after just hearing the boys and girls team went on to the finals for the 200 meter relay! Perfect time to break and have lunch!
Our lunch box. : )
Mini rotisserie sandwiches. Miracle whip, fresh crunchy lettuce, provolone cheese, sliced rotisserie chicken, lightly salted and peppered each sandwich myself. Wrapped each one individually. We also had potato salad and macaroni salad. Fresh pineapple and fresh grapes.
Lay's potato chips. The chicken was roasted by Costco, the potato salad and mac salad were made by the deli at my favorite Japanese supermarket, the day before. My work for the obento was pretty much not a whole lot. I just made the sandwiches freshly that morning after throwing the chicken in the microwave to warm up before slicing. It was a pretty good and basic meal. And it took me almost no time to get our lunch all packed, ready and rarin' to go! And the boys (Branden and Noah) and Noboru loved the sandwiches I made. : )
Branden and Noah enjoying their lunch. Sorta caught Noah mid chew, sorry Noah. : ) Keita's parents behind us. But each school has their own leisure sheet.
If you can read Japanese, you can probably find Branden easy. But if you don't, never fear, I am here to help! : ) Okay here is the scores from Branden's first race of the day. If you look at this paper, you will notice these races are separated by groups of 6. Six kids swam per each race. Branden is in the 2nd to the bottom of this picture cluster. It says Branden swam in lane 4. What lane you swam in, is listed first. Branden swam in lane 4 first race, I whited over every one's last names for their privacy and the names of schools also. You can see, Branden came in 2nd place out of 6 kids racing and his time is listed 39 seconds and a 6th of a second or something like that. 39.6th seconds.  Our school is so small compared to most of the other schools. They were the known underdogs coming into the competition. We knew that. And wow, 2nd place. Our little school shook things up this year! 
Branden swam in the race C, you can see the 6 kids under the C section of kids. Branden swam in lane 2. And once again he came in 2nd place.
By now a whole day has elapsed, it was near 3:30pm-4pm, when I took this pic. The finals were about to start. The voice over the speaker said, whoever places 1st, 2nd or 3rd during the finals will win the award. The girls from our school swam the relay and they unfortunately came in last place during the finals. : ( However they were still happy to have made it that far. And now the boys were about to swim in the finals, keep in mind they are now swimming against just the other winners from the day, who also made it to the finals, so no slow swim teams made it to the finals. This was the biggest and last event of the day. This was it!
Branden's 5th grade teacher became a watcher of lane 6th. He could not be a watcher of his own team, could be a conflict of interest. : ) Our team swam at lane 5. It must have been so hard on Branden's 5th grade teacher, meaning he wants badly to watch lane 5, but he must time watch for lane 6. Hahaha. :  )
Go lane 5!!!! Go boys go!!!
Look at the height difference between K-kun at lane 5 and the kiddo at lane 4. Yes, K-kun is very very tall for his age. : )
Lane 5 bowing. They say over the loud speaker, lane 5 is being represented by such and such school. And all the kids must stand, bow and say, hai!!!!
First swimmer of the relay, goggles on!
2nd position in lane 5, which is Branden putting on his goggles, same with lane 6 too. If you remember in the video above, Branden once again swam at lightning speeds, K-kun too. Oh and, K-kun's mom, yelled when K-kun was almost done with his part of the relay, she shouted...all across the pool..."yakiniku!!!!" Everyone was like  What???? @.@ ??? Did that mother just scream out yakiniku? Of course, no one knew her promise she had made with him, but we all knew, and at the time it was quite possibly the funniest thing ever to have heard, at a very important heart racing time during the race...someone shouting...yakiniku!!!! lol, yes we will remember that one forever!
K-kun was done, Branden was done with his part, and Keita was in the water and Kouki was at lane 5 anxious and ready for his turn! When the race had ended we knew we had placed 3rd! Granted, 1st, and 2nd place would have rocked! But we knew our boys swim team had just placed and were walking away with an award! Kouki's/Kaito's mom and I gave each other 5 right away! Bam! Excitement filled the air.
The boys swim team waiting to collect their award. See the lady with smart phone taking pics with her pink watch? So many parents taking pics right here. Branden looks so happy here. The whole swim team does, in fact. : )
2 camcorders to the right of me, so many people taking pics, taking video. The teams who placed and won awards were there and us parents.
Three coaches or teachers taking pics, the guy in turquoise next to the neon green shirt is from our school, the guy in turquoise. He was there to take pics of the boys swim team collecting their award, And since Branden's the swim team captain for our school, he had to collect it. But the whole boys swim team stood right behind beaming and smiling brightly as Branden collected the award.
First big swim win for many years, as I hear for our school. Our principal at the far back in chair with black hair laughing and smiling in the background. Wow, our principal is sure happy we had won and placed in so many events this year! Our principal was positively beaming over there! : )
Branden was about to collect the award and I could see our principal watching so eagerly for that award. He was all leaning forward and watching so intensely. Poor Branden, yeah try not to feel any pressure for collecting this award now. You only have the eyes of your principal staring at you, and a quiet poolside of a few hundred kids plus parents all watching and looking on. Yeah no pressure at all. : ) Gulp! I'm kidding, I'm kidding. : )
I have now zoomed back from the principal looking on at Branden. And Branden is collecting their award right as I clicked this picture. And you can also see, one of our teachers in the turquoise and his super nice bigger camera taking a bunch of pictures of Branden collecting said award. Branden handled everything perfectly though, he bowed when he was supposed to, said everything he was supposed to, all the formalities and such. He handled it all perfectly. I was so proud.
Congratulations boys! Congratulations on the 200 meter relay race! You did us all proud. From left to right, K-kun, Branden, Keita and Kouki. : )
Congratulations to the entire swim team! Pictured here. Saya-chan smiling right at me and my camera! I'm going to make a copy of this and have Branden take it to her. In fact, I will be making copies of many of these pics and having Branden give them to his fellow swim team members. : )
And Branden had to go and collect yet another award. Branden pictured here in front of the kid in the neon green and orange and black swim trunks. Branden swam like you wouldn't believe this year! I tell ya!
Another one?! Good for you! : )
I am so proud of you Branden.
Branden's 6th grade teacher putting the award Branden gave her to the pile. Our school walked away with a stack of awards this year! Not 1 or 2. But literally like a stack of awards!
Our school principal smiling and happier then you can imagine. I mean we could just see the sheer joy in his face and hear it in his voice! He was so proud and so happy. Heck the kids were on cloud nine, and us parents were just all really happy. These kids really rocked it! Teacher in turquoise taking pics at the back. What a happy principal. : )
Now that this last event of summer was finished, we were really officially on summer break now, this time for sures! No more waking up early, taking Branden and Noah to the plaza to swim. No more swim team practice. Just totally done and our summer finally ready to start being enjoyed. Yep our summer started officially August 6th, even though the boys let out of school last week or so in July. Well we knew K-kun was going to yakiniku that night, hahaha. : )  And we knew, we were heading to the wave pool the next day and bbq'ing the day after that. And just sorta enjoying our month of August. But clearly it was too late to cook dinner August 6th since by now it was nearing 5pm. So we went to the small city nearest us and we had ramen and a big basket of fries in the center while we waited for our ramen to be done. And on the way out of the mall, we each picked 1 donut from Mister Donut, to eat and enjoy at home. Once we got home, we all munched our donut as a small celebratory, "you did it and we're so proud of you" and then the boys took a shower. And then we all took turns showering. We all just enjoyed that night. Watching TV and relaxing. It was so nice to finally begin summer break! Anyway, there you have it, Branden's last year to compete in the swimming meet. He did really really well. We are so proud of you kiddo. : )