Joshua (on the left) and Jodiann (on the right), my nephew and niece, respectively. Both of them swimming champs.
I don't have kids of my own yet. However, I do have a brilliant niece and an equally brilliant nephew. They're both swimming champions. They both compete for the Strathmore Swim Team in New Jersey. Both of them had a good Summer Swim Season this year. Check this out - both won all the gold medals in their respective events. If that's not impressive, then I don't know what you call it.
Joshua showing off the ribbon he was awarded with after winning an event.
My nephew, Joshua, the younger of the two is only 6 years old (going seven this September) and is already beating competitors, 2 years older than him. This year, he won 2 gold medals in the championships for freestyle and backstroke events.
His inspiration for getting into swimming is his 'Ate' (big sister in English and pronounced as a-te, not eyt.) I remember being there with them during the YMCA Swim Team Banquet in early April 2005 when Jodiann was presented an award for winning a silver medal in one of the championships she competed in that year. Joshua held on to her Ate's plaque and wished he had one of his own. And now he has his own achievements. Ribbons, medals, trophies . . . and I believe, more to come. He's just getting started.
Joshua with the younger members of the Strathmore Swim Team. He's standing, middle row at the far right.
I am amazed of his achievements this year (there were, of course, previous achievements prior to this season) considering that just over a year ago, when my wife and I visited them in New Jersey, he was just starting to learn and was actually front crawl swimming "like a shrimp" as my brother and niece would fondly tease him.
Outside of the pool, he's a typical 6-year old boy; laughs all the time, plays all the time, watch TV all the time and always seems to be in high energy mode.
Jodiann with her team mates, standing tall in the middle.
My niece, Jodiann, the elder of the two has even broken all team records in her age bracket by 2 to 7 seconds faster than the previous ones. Except for her weakest event which is breaststroke, but still she managed to break the long standing record by 0.20 seconds. To illustrate the idea of how fast she was with the records she has set, if she's to compete against the previous record holders, she'd be ahead of them by about a quarter to half of the swimming pool length. These were her achievements in the local Aberdeen/Matawan area in New Jersey, competing against swimmers from other clubs within the area. At the end of the season, during the Swim Team Banquet, she was awarded as the team's "Most Valuable Swimmer" for the 2nd year in a row. But her talents are not limited there.
Actually, she also swims for the YMCA team which competes beyond the local area. This year, she competed for 1 invitational meet and she won 2 silver medals. She also competed in the New Jersey State Championship where she won a bronze medal in the 50m freestyle event and she could have won her first State Championship (gold medal) in the 50m backstroke event if not for a technicality in the rules. Apparently, after the starting kick from the pool wall, there is a certain point in the pool where the swimmer has to resurface and proceed with the backstroke. She held on a little longer under water and that became ground for disqualification. But still, in her age bracket, Jodiann is now one of New Jersey's top ten swimmers.
Jodiann receiving her "Most Valuable Swimmer" award during the banquet.
Her achievements in the State Championships has earned her the right to represent the State of New Jersey in the Eastern Zone Championships this week in Buffalo, New York. But because of the backstroke disqualification, she may compete in one event only - the 50m freestyle. My brother, the children's, personal trainer and coach and manager, felt that it may not be worth it to fly or drive all the way to Buffalo for one event only. They decided to back out and be better prepared for next year.
In contrast with Joshua, Jodiann exhibits some maturity for her age. She's quiet, gentle and listens to elders' advise.
But mind you, these two are not just all about swimming. They're also achievers in school and maintain high grades in their academic subjects.
Six years from now, the Summer Olympics will be held in London (would have been even better for us if New York City won that bid). By then, Jodiann will be 17 and primed to compete in the biggest sporting event anywhere in the world. I don't know about the Olympic's or the US Swim Team's age requirements but I can see our Jodiann swimming for that team in that Olympics. If not, then in 2016 along with Joshua.
Sadly, I don't get to spend that much time with them because they live thousands of miles away from where I am right now. But we do have a lot of fun whenever we get together. The last time was in Manila, Philippines last April 2006.