With two daughters on the swim team, I literally work to fund their sport. Between registration fees, paying for meets, buying the right suits for practice and meets, and keeping them flush with swim caps, goggles, swim fins, sunscreen, and assorted other related equipment and supplies, their passion for the water is costing me a small fortune each year. But I feel so strongly that my girls will benefit from being part of an athletic organization that I'm willing to shell out thousands of dollars to support them.
Before the girls found swimming, they tried and wanted to quit several other sports, from karate to soccer. A few practices in, I always heard the same whiny refrain: "Do we have to go?" And I'd want to do a face palm when I realized how much money I'd just thrown out the window for an activity my kids didn't even like. But with swimming, it's different. They never complain about practices and really look forward to meets.
I'll admit I bristled a bit when I first became acquainted with how expensive the sport is. The registration fee alone is several hundred dollars. Then on top of that, there's a monthly participation fee. The girls need specific team suits for meets, as well as team swim caps. Oh, and mirrored goggles to deflect the sunlight on the pool (not kidding). Of course, they lose their goggles constantly, so I'm always replacing them. And like I mentioned before, don't forget about practice suits, and equipment like kick boards and fins. All told, I spent close to $2,000 on the season last year . . . per kid!
But despite the cost, which I know I'm incredibly lucky to be able to afford, it's completely worth it in my eyes. Logging all those hours in the pool has positively impacted their lives in so many ways. Not only has my girls' self-esteem skyrocketed as their strokes improve and they take on new challenges and hit new goals, but they've made tons of friends and are in great shape. I know that as they grow with their sport, they'll continue to reap the benefits team sports provide. The thing I think about most is how in a time when stories about cyberbullying and teen suicide seem to rule the news, my girls have a place they can go to feel good about themselves and receive the support of their coaches and teammates.
You can't put a dollar amount on that kind of peace of mind. So I'll keep spending the money to keep them in the pool where they are happiest. Even if it means I can't spend money on things for myself. Seeing the girls' look of pride when they master a new dive drill or win a race they practiced their behinds off for is worth so much more to me than anything else.