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Swimming test: frustrations on the sidelines

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Last week, our oldest son was up for his swimming test. He was quite excited and had been looking forward to it. We left early to be there on time. The place was already crowded! Was there already a swimming test in progress? No, there were still a few recreational swimmers in the pool.

Fairly small facility

The Wedert, a public swimming pool where the tests are held, is a fairly small facility with a small foyer and a small cafeteria. From the cafeteria and a window in the foyer, you can look inside the pool area. We thought we got there early, but the cafeteria was already packed with people, both sitting and standing, so I went back downstairs with our youngest. Daddy was already gone to the changing rooms with our oldest. In the foyer, there were already many people standing in front of the window. Though still just a few little swimmers had arrived.

Who were these people?

Then who were all these people? These were not just the parents and a few siblings. My husband had already warned me and I did not believe him. But he was right: these were not just parents and siblings. No, these were grandparents, even uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews as well.

Pardon my French

WTF? I know, I’m sorry, but there were quite a few swear words going through my mind (just though my mind, not out of my mouth). Because this was insane. I totally understand if a grandparent wants to see his or her grandchild take the test. I really do, I’m not that kind of selfish mother who would want that moment all for herself. On the contrary. But coming to the swimming pool with whole (extended) families to watch one child swim for his or her certificate? I mean, for real??

Get it off my chest

I do need to get this off my chest. Am I really the only one thinking this is strange? Coming there with every single family member? If I look at all those people, I probably am. So, the only option was to get behind the rest, standing on tiptoes and trying to look past 3 or 4 rows of people. If I stretch out my arms, maybe I can manage to get a few pictures. Our youngest couldn’t see anything at all and went to sit in a corner, to play a game.

And while I’m standing there in the 4th of 5th row (behind me, more people had gathered), I’m suddenly pushed aside by an older woman. ‘Would you move please, I want to see my granddaughter!’ Oh, and what do you think why I am standing here?! Totally flabbergasted, I’m watching her making her way to the window.



Looking past the people, I see our little guy searching for us. He can’t see us. I notice that he’s getting anxious. Are mommy and daddy watching? Trying to get his attention by frantically waving above all those heads. Standing on my toes. Stretching as far as I can. Yes, there it is, eye contact! We’re both waving now and visibly relieved, he turns and listens to the instructions of his teacher.

In the pocket

He swam well and got his certificate with ease. Proud as hell, he walks into the changing rooms. All we need to do now,  is wait for the actual certificate. After maybe 15 minutes, one of the teachers comes into the foyer, holding all the certificates. It was so crowded, that they had to find a spot to hand them out to all the little swimmers. Next challenge was to get all the children there. Well, finally Sam gets called and he is so proud.

Getting outside

After Sam had received his certificate, we tried to fight our way to the door. We got there eventually, but it was so crowded that the doors would not open anymore. The entrance has two sets of sliding doors and for safety reasons, one will only open once the other one is closed.

The foyer was so crowded, that people were almost pressed against the doors. Even between those sliding doors, the space was crowded. Which meant that the sensors on the doors flipped and eventually, none of the doors opened anymore. At all. At some point, a few dads got tired of waiting and forced open the doors. All right, pulling the boys on the jackets, squeezing outside. Oh boy, finally.


What an afternoon. Such frustration. Luckily, the boys hadn’t noticed any of it. We got what we came for: the swimming certificate. And we did have a surprise up our sleeves for the boys: to celebrate, we went to Sam’s favourite Sushi restaurant! And frustrated or not, going there is always a treat 😉

Thank you for reading!

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  • Reply


    December 9, 2017

    Whaaaa wat verveld kunnen mensen toch doen. Fier op je zoon!

    • Reply


      December 9, 2017

      Heel fier!!

  • Reply


    December 15, 2017

    Jeumig he… ik ben ooit eens bij het afzwemmen geweest bij het broertje van mijn vriend. Dat was buiten, maar ook megadruk. ik begrijp dat eigenlijk ook niet. Ook niet leuk voor de kinderen denk ik.

    • Reply


      December 16, 2017

      Nee, voor de kinderen was dat ook niet leuk. Maar als je zag hoeveel families daar waren, waren wij één van de weinigen die dat maar een vreemd gegeven vonden.

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    December 25, 2017

    Vréselijk. Ik krijg het al benauwd bij het lezen van je verhaal. Wat raar eigenlijk dat je achter ramen moet kijken! Dat je niet binnen mag staan joh. Vooral als ouders. Gek geregeld. Maar misschien vanwege de kleine omgeving? Gefeliciteerd met jouw kanjer in elk geval!! He did it. En jullie ook….

    • Reply


      December 25, 2017

      Dank je wel, Cynthia! Ja, was echt te bizar. Maar blijkbaar is dat heel normaal. Zal ik wel gek zijn 😉

  • Reply

    Adrienne McGuire

    January 30, 2018

    That sounds (and looks) absolutely insane! This phenomenon of bringing everyone in the family to witness the smallest accomplishments of our children, goes beyond swim meets and swimming tests. When my youngest “graduated” from elementary school, entire families attended, complete with roses and chocolates and other lavish gifts for their 10-year-olds. I found it very odd and slightly offputting to make such a grandiose gesture for a rather small accomplishment in the child’s life. I get what you’re saying, and I don’t want to be a downer either, but things have gotten a little excessive everywhere.

    • Reply


      January 31, 2018

      Excessive, that’s exactly it. When I was standing there, I started to feel I’m the crazy person thinking that this is odd. Yes, I’m extremely proud of my kid, but it never crossed my mind to shower him with gifts and bring the entire family to cheer him on. He did well, absolutely, but let’s get real. Although an accomplishment, it’s also learning a very basic skill, important to survive in the water. What will all those kids expect to see/get when they graduate from college or whatever? It’s not that those kids were winning Olympic medals. Totally out of proportion.

      • Reply


        February 21, 2018

        I don’t understand why SO MANY other parents don’t feel the way we do. It’s teaching kids to expect grand praise for every little accomplishment – which could lead to perfectionism OR a low drive to try anything remotely difficult or challenging. I guess all we can do is explain to our kids how we feel and why they won’t be getting roses for passing a swim test, etc. I’ve found that most of the time, my kids get it, and they don’t expect to be rewarded every day of their lives. Nice chatting with you, Nicole!

        • Reply


          February 23, 2018

          My sentiment exactly. Everything has be bigger, better, more extravagant these days, setting unrealistic expectations for the future. A sincere ‘well done’ and a hug means much more than material gifts. But that is my modest opinion. Our kids know that we are proud of them, without making a spectacle of it. And they appreciate even the smallest gifts and praise, those are given from the heart, not from a big purse. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting, Adrienne, pleasure to ‘talk’ to you 🙂

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