Y Notes

Soccer and snow can mix

  • In what seems like years, we have actually had a winter.

    The snowblowers have been dusted off and seen multiple uses. The kids have had several snow days and late starts at school. And the automotive body shops have seen booming business, thanks in so small part to teenage drivers including my own.

    I am most likely one of the few people who love winter. As long as the wind isn’t howling, I will be outside skiing, biking, running, sledding...o.k., maybe not sledding anytime soon since my shoulder injury still hasn’t completely healed.

    Even cold temperatures don’t deter me. Just put on more layers and keep moving. During a recent coldspell, my XC skiing partner, Candy Crosby, and I waited for it to warm up a bit before venturing out...we waited for the temperature to reach double digits. And, yes, we were sweating and removing layers by the time we were done.

    But I know I am in the minority. Post after post online laments the frigid temperatures and the seemingly continuous snow. A picture of a giraffe with snow midway up its neck, with a call for the snow to stop, made me giggle. And a bit wistful.

    Winter will come to an end soon, which means we will transition from one sport to the next. At the Y, the basketball games will wrap up and the kids will head outside to the soccer fields. Which means one thing: more snow.

    Last year, the first week of YMCA soccer games forced me into one of my least favorite positions: deciding whether to postpone games. There was a chance of snow but the wind wasn’t blowing and it wasn’t terribly cold, so we went ahead with the games.

    With the flakes falling, it was difficult to see the goal lines, so the officials just guesstimated when the ball was out of bounds. The ball would only roll a foot or two before coming to a stop, but that just gave the kids more chances to kick it. And the parents and coaches had it the toughest, as they were forced to just stand in the snow, cheering on the kids.

    Btu the kids just ran up and down the fields, kicking and giggling. It was like they were meant to be outside. Turns out, they didn’t melt in the snow.

    As the morning progressed, the snowfall came to an end and it started melting. That’s when it really got ugly. The snow was better than the soupy, muddy mess we played the final games of the day in. And at the end of the season, all the games blurred together, except for one week...the first week in the snow.

    The chances of it snowing on a soccer game again this year? Fairly likely, especially since the first YMCA soccer games are in just a few weeks. So mark your calendars and place your bets: It will snow on March 10, the first day of soccer season.

     

    Registration for the YMCA/Valmont youth coed soccer league ends Friday. For those parents and guardians who have said more than once, “I need to get my kid signed up for soccer,” the time has come to get it done.

    The league is open to kids in kindergarten through eighth-grade, boys and girls, even those who turn 5 by the first game but haven’t started school. I understand that it is hard to wrap your head around soccer games while there is snow on the ground. But trust me, the games will go on...lines or no lines.

     

     Text

  • 16-Feb-2018

In what seems like years, we have actually had a winter.

The snowblowers have been dusted off and seen multiple uses. The kids have had several snow days and late starts at school. And the automotive body shops have seen booming business, thanks in so small part to teenage drivers including my own.

I am most likely one of the few people who love winter. As long as the wind isn’t howling, I will be outside skiing, biking, running, sledding...o.k., maybe not sledding anytime soon since my shoulder injury still hasn’t completely healed.

Even cold temperatures don’t deter me. Just put on more layers and keep moving. During a recent coldspell, my XC skiing partner, Candy Crosby, and I waited for it to warm up a bit before venturing out...we waited for the temperature to reach double digits. And, yes, we were sweating and removing layers by the time we were done.

But I know I am in the minority. Post after post online laments the frigid temperatures and the seemingly continuous snow. A picture of a giraffe with snow midway up its neck, with a call for the snow to stop, made me giggle. And a bit wistful.

Winter will come to an end soon, which means we will transition from one sport to the next. At the Y, the basketball games will wrap up and the kids will head outside to the soccer fields. Which means one thing: more snow.

Last year, the first week of YMCA soccer games forced me into one of my least favorite positions: deciding whether to postpone games. There was a chance of snow but the wind wasn’t blowing and it wasn’t terribly cold, so we went ahead with the games.

With the flakes falling, it was difficult to see the goal lines, so the officials just guesstimated when the ball was out of bounds. The ball would only roll a foot or two before coming to a stop, but that just gave the kids more chances to kick it. And the parents and coaches had it the toughest, as they were forced to just stand in the snow, cheering on the kids.

Btu the kids just ran up and down the fields, kicking and giggling. It was like they were meant to be outside. Turns out, they didn’t melt in the snow.

As the morning progressed, the snowfall came to an end and it started melting. That’s when it really got ugly. The snow was better than the soupy, muddy mess we played the final games of the day in. And at the end of the season, all the games blurred together, except for one week...the first week in the snow.

The chances of it snowing on a soccer game again this year? Fairly likely, especially since the first YMCA soccer games are in just a few weeks. So mark your calendars and place your bets: It will snow on March 10, the first day of soccer season.

 

Registration for the YMCA/Valmont youth coed soccer league ends Friday. For those parents and guardians who have said more than once, “I need to get my kid signed up for soccer,” the time has come to get it done.

The league is open to kids in kindergarten through eighth-grade, boys and girls, even those who turn 5 by the first game but haven’t started school. I understand that it is hard to wrap your head around soccer games while there is snow on the ground. But trust me, the games will go on...lines or no lines.

 

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2018 Partners with Youth/Indoor Sprint Triathlon

  • Once a year, the YMCA staff and a large group of volunteers reach out to the community to ask for donations for a specific cause - Partners with Youth.

    Partners with Youth is a financial aid program, which covers programs fees for youth sports as well as membership costs for families.

    Under the Partners with Youth program, a mom could have part or most of the cost covered for her daughter to play soccer. Or a dad registers their child for swim lessons at a reduced cost. Or a parent may apply to have part of their membership fee covered by Partners with Youth so the entire family can spend a hour or two shooting baskets in the gym.

    Ultimately, the purpose of Partners with Youth is to give everyone the opportunity to belong to the YMCA, regardless of their ability to pay. No child is turned away because of their ability - or more importantly their inability - to pay.

    This is made possible because of donations to Partners with Youth. On Wednesday, Feb. 21, dozens of volunteers will be making phone calls, asking for a contribution. This is you chance to show your support for those who need the Y and the programs it offers, but just can’t afford it right now.

    So when you receive a call in a few weeks, please be as generous as possible.

    And just like families can request financial assistance any time of year, you don’t have to wait until Feb. 21 to make a donation to Partners with Youth. At any point, the YMCA will take a contribution, either online or at the YMCA service desk.

    And this year, there is an added opportunity to support Partners with Youth, a unique opportunity which may not be for everyone.

    On the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 25, the YMCA will host an indoor sprint triathlon with proceeds going to Partners with Youth. For those unfamiliar with a triathlon, it is swimming, followed by biking and ending with a run or walk. I regularly get asked if the events have to be in that order. There is logic to swim, bike, run. If you get tired while running and need a break, just walk. If you get tired while biking and need a break, just coast. Buti if you get tired while swimming and need a break....your options are limited and may involve the lifeguard using her life-saving skills.

    But for the indoor triathlon, participants will have the option of swimming or walking in the pool; we will use the Y’s stationary cycles used for the rYde class; and then the triathletes will hop on one of the 11 treadmills in the cardio area of the Y. Thankfully, no need to worry about the weather.

    The PWY Indoor Triathlon is open to members and non-members; participants can get a McCook Triathlon t-shirt or pass on another shirt; and all the events are weighted evenly, so a strong swimmer will have just as good a chance to win as a fast runner. Although someone who is good at all three elements will likely take the top prize.

    And while this may seem like not much time to train, this is the perfect chance to try a “tri” for the first time or to get a jumpstart on all the triathlons this spring and summer.

    Registration is now open through Friday, Feb. 23 for the indoor triathlon, both online at www.mccookymca.org or by stopping by the YMCA.

    And thank you in advance for your generosity when our volunteers call on Feb. 21 for the Partners With Youth fund-drive.

     

     Text

  • 08-Feb-2018

Once a year, the YMCA staff and a large group of volunteers reach out to the community to ask for donations for a specific cause - Partners with Youth.

Partners with Youth is a financial aid program, which covers programs fees for youth sports as well as membership costs for families.

Under the Partners with Youth program, a mom could have part or most of the cost covered for her daughter to play soccer. Or a dad registers their child for swim lessons at a reduced cost. Or a parent may apply to have part of their membership fee covered by Partners with Youth so the entire family can spend a hour or two shooting baskets in the gym.

Ultimately, the purpose of Partners with Youth is to give everyone the opportunity to belong to the YMCA, regardless of their ability to pay. No child is turned away because of their ability - or more importantly their inability - to pay.

This is made possible because of donations to Partners with Youth. On Wednesday, Feb. 21, dozens of volunteers will be making phone calls, asking for a contribution. This is you chance to show your support for those who need the Y and the programs it offers, but just can’t afford it right now.

So when you receive a call in a few weeks, please be as generous as possible.

And just like families can request financial assistance any time of year, you don’t have to wait until Feb. 21 to make a donation to Partners with Youth. At any point, the YMCA will take a contribution, either online or at the YMCA service desk.

And this year, there is an added opportunity to support Partners with Youth, a unique opportunity which may not be for everyone.

On the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 25, the YMCA will host an indoor sprint triathlon with proceeds going to Partners with Youth. For those unfamiliar with a triathlon, it is swimming, followed by biking and ending with a run or walk. I regularly get asked if the events have to be in that order. There is logic to swim, bike, run. If you get tired while running and need a break, just walk. If you get tired while biking and need a break, just coast. Buti if you get tired while swimming and need a break....your options are limited and may involve the lifeguard using her life-saving skills.

But for the indoor triathlon, participants will have the option of swimming or walking in the pool; we will use the Y’s stationary cycles used for the rYde class; and then the triathletes will hop on one of the 11 treadmills in the cardio area of the Y. Thankfully, no need to worry about the weather.

The PWY Indoor Triathlon is open to members and non-members; participants can get a McCook Triathlon t-shirt or pass on another shirt; and all the events are weighted evenly, so a strong swimmer will have just as good a chance to win as a fast runner. Although someone who is good at all three elements will likely take the top prize.

And while this may seem like not much time to train, this is the perfect chance to try a “tri” for the first time or to get a jumpstart on all the triathlons this spring and summer.

Registration is now open through Friday, Feb. 23 for the indoor triathlon, both online at www.mccookymca.org or by stopping by the YMCA.

And thank you in advance for your generosity when our volunteers call on Feb. 21 for the Partners With Youth fund-drive.

 

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Republican River Fitness Series - 2017 Wrap-Up - blog post image

Republican River Fitness Series - 2017 Wrap-Up

  • Above: During 2017, 17 participants ran or walked in at least 9 of the 12 RRFS events. Text

  • 01-Feb-2018

Above: During 2017, 17 participants ran or walked in at least 9 of the 12 RRFS events. Text

Leave golf and sledding to the pros

  • This is going to be a stretch, but we are going to cover golfing, sledding, snowboarding and kayaking, so stick with me.
    The YMCA is hosting an indoor coed golf league beginning in February. It can be two guys, two gals, or a guy and a gal to make a two-person team. The cost is $50 per team (non-members can also play for an additional $25 fee). Registrations will be accepted until Jan. 31.
    For six weeks, the teams will be given an opponent and a computerized "course" on the indoor golf simulator. Teams will then schedule their playing time on Court Fore on the lower level of the YMCA. Teams will also need to bring their own clubs.
    I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the golf simulator has a bias...it is only set-up for right-handed players. Personally, this issue doesn’t affect me and I’m not even a leftie.
    A person glancing in my garage would think my family spends hours on the links because of the multiple golf bags leaning in the corner. In reality, golf only crosses my mind when I move one of the bags out of the way to reach for a lawn chair or a cooler.
    I can recall golfing on an actual golf course approximately twice in my lifetime. The first was on par-three course in Omaha. I have tried to convince myself that I breezed through each hole but more likely picked up the ball after the fifth or sixth stroke on each hole, eventually giving up after just a few holes. Patience is not my strong suit.
    The second time - and most recent as well as last time - was 22 years ago at Heritage Hills, where my future brother-in-law, Mark, decided to have a golf outing the morning of his wedding. Being the groom as well as a regular golfer, I’m sure he was the first one on and first one off the course that beautiful, sunny August day. On the other hand, I was in the final foursome. Details are sketchy but the outing included sunburns, cocktails mid-course and finishing just in time for the ceremony.
    Since then, my golfing has been limited to the many fine putt-putt golf courses across the country, with their cute, tiny windmills and moats brimming with fake blue water. I occasionally pop my head into Court Fore at the YMCA, but I know my limitations. So I encourage all those golfers out there to consider the indoor golf league this winter and I will leave the golfing to the pros or at least those who don’t have a thick layer of dust on their clubs.
    Even if I had considered joining the YMCA’s indoor golf league to improve my game, it is no longer an option this winter, thanks to a severe shoulder injury...or at least it feels that way.
    While I would like to come up with some heroic or adventurous story for the injury, it is from sledding. There I said it: I injured myself sledding with my kids.
    I forgot that I am not an infallible 17-year-old boy who can jump on a sled, fly over the edge and come to a stop uninjured. Instead, I jumped on the sled, flew over the edge, landed on my shoulder and swear I only came to a stop because of sheer will...or at least it felt that way.
    Now mind you that the day could have ended much worse. I originally wanted to take our kayaks sledding down “M” Hill south of McCook but was vetoed by more reasonable minds.
    And I didn’t partake of the snowboarding in the ditches of county roads behind a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. At some point, common sense kicked in...or the shoulder said no. Either way, I may have second thoughts the next time the snow falls and the kids want to go sledding. I’ll have to stick those activities I’m more comfortable doing such as swimming a mile or two in the ocean or biking down a hill at 52 mph and leave the sledding to the pros.
     Text

  • 26-Jan-2018

This is going to be a stretch, but we are going to cover golfing, sledding, snowboarding and kayaking, so stick with me.
The YMCA is hosting an indoor coed golf league beginning in February. It can be two guys, two gals, or a guy and a gal to make a two-person team. The cost is $50 per team (non-members can also play for an additional $25 fee). Registrations will be accepted until Jan. 31.
For six weeks, the teams will be given an opponent and a computerized "course" on the indoor golf simulator. Teams will then schedule their playing time on Court Fore on the lower level of the YMCA. Teams will also need to bring their own clubs.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the golf simulator has a bias...it is only set-up for right-handed players. Personally, this issue doesn’t affect me and I’m not even a leftie.
A person glancing in my garage would think my family spends hours on the links because of the multiple golf bags leaning in the corner. In reality, golf only crosses my mind when I move one of the bags out of the way to reach for a lawn chair or a cooler.
I can recall golfing on an actual golf course approximately twice in my lifetime. The first was on par-three course in Omaha. I have tried to convince myself that I breezed through each hole but more likely picked up the ball after the fifth or sixth stroke on each hole, eventually giving up after just a few holes. Patience is not my strong suit.
The second time - and most recent as well as last time - was 22 years ago at Heritage Hills, where my future brother-in-law, Mark, decided to have a golf outing the morning of his wedding. Being the groom as well as a regular golfer, I’m sure he was the first one on and first one off the course that beautiful, sunny August day. On the other hand, I was in the final foursome. Details are sketchy but the outing included sunburns, cocktails mid-course and finishing just in time for the ceremony.
Since then, my golfing has been limited to the many fine putt-putt golf courses across the country, with their cute, tiny windmills and moats brimming with fake blue water. I occasionally pop my head into Court Fore at the YMCA, but I know my limitations. So I encourage all those golfers out there to consider the indoor golf league this winter and I will leave the golfing to the pros or at least those who don’t have a thick layer of dust on their clubs.
Even if I had considered joining the YMCA’s indoor golf league to improve my game, it is no longer an option this winter, thanks to a severe shoulder injury...or at least it feels that way.
While I would like to come up with some heroic or adventurous story for the injury, it is from sledding. There I said it: I injured myself sledding with my kids.
I forgot that I am not an infallible 17-year-old boy who can jump on a sled, fly over the edge and come to a stop uninjured. Instead, I jumped on the sled, flew over the edge, landed on my shoulder and swear I only came to a stop because of sheer will...or at least it felt that way.
Now mind you that the day could have ended much worse. I originally wanted to take our kayaks sledding down “M” Hill south of McCook but was vetoed by more reasonable minds.
And I didn’t partake of the snowboarding in the ditches of county roads behind a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. At some point, common sense kicked in...or the shoulder said no. Either way, I may have second thoughts the next time the snow falls and the kids want to go sledding. I’ll have to stick those activities I’m more comfortable doing such as swimming a mile or two in the ocean or biking down a hill at 52 mph and leave the sledding to the pros.
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New hot tub at the Y

  • At some point, exasperation sets in with so many rules to follow, so many regulations to meet, so many guidelines to implement.
    Eventually, you want to give up. But in the end, perseverance pays off and you may appreciate what you achieved even more.

    Years from now, you may not remember the how or why, but you will remember.

    This is true at the YMCA, where – after many trials and much tribulation - the YMCA’s hot tub is once again up and working for the first time since…O.K. I’m not even sure when it went on the fritz. Most likely, it was a gradual process until it finally quit working, kind of like our bodies as we age.

    Plus, I don’t even want to admit how long it has been out of service. To put it into perspective, one, possibly two, of my kids graduated and went off to college while the out-of-order sign was in place.

    The process to replace the hot tub started soon after it was determined that the hot tub could no longer be repaired. And that’s when the headaches really began. Anytime the government is involved, in the form of regulations, there is going to be red-tape.

    But the issues just continued and the replacement timeline stretched on and on. There was even talk at one point of calling it quits and just filling in the hot tub with cement. For the first time since the building was constructed at its’ current location in the early 1980s, there was the possibility of not having a hot tub at the YMCA.

    But the hot tub is important to a lot of YMCA members, including myself and I have my own at home. There are some people who cannot fathom a workout without a few minutes in the hot tub at the end. And there are some members who come to the YMCA only to use the hot tub.

    So ultimately not having a hot tub was not an option, but the frustration continued. A few weeks ago with all the rules and regulations finally met thanks to the perseverance of Aquatic Director Anna Sis and Executive Director Mike Gonzales, the new hot tub was installed.

    Rather than having an out-of-order sign regularly posted, we finally have a “Spa is Open” poster throughout the facility. It was a long process, but it makes us appreciate all the effort – but maybe not the expense – that went into getting the hot tub back up and running.

    It would have been nice to break out the bubbly to celebrate, but there is probably some regulation somewhere against mixing champagne and bromine. And at this point, we aren’t going to do anything to jeopardize the new hot tub.

    On a somewhat related note, I was returning from Lincoln this weekend, listening to a “Freakonomics” podcast, appropriately titled, “Why is Life so Hard?” The episode was trying to explain we feel like we have more “headwinds” and obstacles than others, which can breed resentment; and why we undervalue our “tailwinds,” which can leave us ungrateful and unhappy.

    Initially, the analogy of tailwinds and headwinds piqued my interest because my bicycle friends and I rarely venture outside on our bikes without looking at the wind direction and speed. We dread headwinds, even though they ultimately make us stronger riders. And we treasure the tailwinds but quickly forget that we are benefitting from the push from behind.

    But ultimately, we appreciate and remember those harder rides. Most of my bike rides blur together but a few years ago the first day of Bike Ride Across Nebraska had tornadoes, snow and sleet, not to mention wind and freezing temperatures. The ride is still etched into my memory because I – along with Randy Andrews – pushed through all 80 miles. It was the toughest ride I had ever done, but one I will never forget.

    And I thought about the YMCA’s hot tub which just needed government approval to open. There had been many “headwinds” in the form of broken parts and changes in designs to meet government mandates. The “tailwinds” were in the form of support of YMCA members’ patience with the process. Yet, the staff will remember for years the perseverance needed to get the hot tub in place.

     Text

  • 18-Jan-2018

At some point, exasperation sets in with so many rules to follow, so many regulations to meet, so many guidelines to implement.
Eventually, you want to give up. But in the end, perseverance pays off and you may appreciate what you achieved even more.

Years from now, you may not remember the how or why, but you will remember.

This is true at the YMCA, where – after many trials and much tribulation - the YMCA’s hot tub is once again up and working for the first time since…O.K. I’m not even sure when it went on the fritz. Most likely, it was a gradual process until it finally quit working, kind of like our bodies as we age.

Plus, I don’t even want to admit how long it has been out of service. To put it into perspective, one, possibly two, of my kids graduated and went off to college while the out-of-order sign was in place.

The process to replace the hot tub started soon after it was determined that the hot tub could no longer be repaired. And that’s when the headaches really began. Anytime the government is involved, in the form of regulations, there is going to be red-tape.

But the issues just continued and the replacement timeline stretched on and on. There was even talk at one point of calling it quits and just filling in the hot tub with cement. For the first time since the building was constructed at its’ current location in the early 1980s, there was the possibility of not having a hot tub at the YMCA.

But the hot tub is important to a lot of YMCA members, including myself and I have my own at home. There are some people who cannot fathom a workout without a few minutes in the hot tub at the end. And there are some members who come to the YMCA only to use the hot tub.

So ultimately not having a hot tub was not an option, but the frustration continued. A few weeks ago with all the rules and regulations finally met thanks to the perseverance of Aquatic Director Anna Sis and Executive Director Mike Gonzales, the new hot tub was installed.

Rather than having an out-of-order sign regularly posted, we finally have a “Spa is Open” poster throughout the facility. It was a long process, but it makes us appreciate all the effort – but maybe not the expense – that went into getting the hot tub back up and running.

It would have been nice to break out the bubbly to celebrate, but there is probably some regulation somewhere against mixing champagne and bromine. And at this point, we aren’t going to do anything to jeopardize the new hot tub.

On a somewhat related note, I was returning from Lincoln this weekend, listening to a “Freakonomics” podcast, appropriately titled, “Why is Life so Hard?” The episode was trying to explain we feel like we have more “headwinds” and obstacles than others, which can breed resentment; and why we undervalue our “tailwinds,” which can leave us ungrateful and unhappy.

Initially, the analogy of tailwinds and headwinds piqued my interest because my bicycle friends and I rarely venture outside on our bikes without looking at the wind direction and speed. We dread headwinds, even though they ultimately make us stronger riders. And we treasure the tailwinds but quickly forget that we are benefitting from the push from behind.

But ultimately, we appreciate and remember those harder rides. Most of my bike rides blur together but a few years ago the first day of Bike Ride Across Nebraska had tornadoes, snow and sleet, not to mention wind and freezing temperatures. The ride is still etched into my memory because I – along with Randy Andrews – pushed through all 80 miles. It was the toughest ride I had ever done, but one I will never forget.

And I thought about the YMCA’s hot tub which just needed government approval to open. There had been many “headwinds” in the form of broken parts and changes in designs to meet government mandates. The “tailwinds” were in the form of support of YMCA members’ patience with the process. Yet, the staff will remember for years the perseverance needed to get the hot tub in place.

 Text

Just stick with it

  •  

    The change is subtle at first. A few more people on the treadmill. A few more people in lap pool. A few more people in the fitness classes.

    Then the next week, you arrive at 5 p.m. and the front row of exercise machines are completely full. You figure out how three people can swim in a lap lane. You get the last stationary bike in the rYde class.

    Welcome to January at the YMCA.

    January is the busiest month of the year at the YMCA - or at least it seems that way.

    There is the obvious reason: New Year’s Resolutions. People are trying to kick off the new year with healthy habits such as exercising on a regular basis. These people are there in force at the beginning of January. But by February, the novelty of this new exercise begins to wane and there are few more elliptical machines open in the evening.

    The YMCA also sees a dramatic surge when the weather turns cold. The slick streets and whipping winds convince people that the treadmills aren’t so bad. They will remain inside until the weather turns nice or they have watched every episode of Law and Order.

    And then there is the YMCA’s Lighten Up Team Challenge, which begins this week with the initial weigh-ins and fitness assessments. For the next three months, participants will take part in weekly group fitness classes, get in extra sessions in the weight room, or a few extra laps around the indoor track.

    But will these new habits last? The common theory is that it takes anywhere from 21 to 29 days for a habit to become ingrained. Hence, the dramatic drop-off by February.

    So whether you are part of Lighten Up or doing it on your own, figure out how to make a commitment to exercising on a regular basis...and how to make it realistic.

    Those new to exercising need to figure out two issues. First, you need to figure a good time of day to fit in a workout.

    While I hop out of bed to work-out at 5 a.m., my husband can’t wrap his head around getting up that early. One word: Naps.

    Consequently, I don’t understand how he can run 3 or 4 miles late at night and then fall fast asleep right afterward. My mind and body is still racing for a couple hours after I’m done.

    A common practice is to exercise while your child is also at the YMCA, whether for a swim lesson or basketball practice. Others prefer to stop by on their way home from work, knowing that once they get home, they won’t leave again that evening. And then there is the tag-team method, where one parents exercises while the other stays home with the small children; then they trade off...hopefully that same day.

    The second issue to address is what kind of exercise do you want to do, whether it is a fitness classes, the weight room, exercise machines, or group sports. The options are endless and can be switched up, but should fit your needs and personality.

    For the past year, I followed a triathlon training schedule so I spent a lot of solo time in the pool, on the bike or the treadmill. I simply didn’t have time for a fitness class. But over the past month, I’ve fit in a couple yoga classes and plan to try the new Zumba strength class next week.

    So pledge to try out a new class each week or build your endurance on the cardio equipment for a month...whatever it will take to make that new healthy, active lifestyle stick. We want to see those fitness classes full and the treadmills whirring, whether it’s January or June.



     Text

  • 05-Jan-2018

 

The change is subtle at first. A few more people on the treadmill. A few more people in lap pool. A few more people in the fitness classes.

Then the next week, you arrive at 5 p.m. and the front row of exercise machines are completely full. You figure out how three people can swim in a lap lane. You get the last stationary bike in the rYde class.

Welcome to January at the YMCA.

January is the busiest month of the year at the YMCA - or at least it seems that way.

There is the obvious reason: New Year’s Resolutions. People are trying to kick off the new year with healthy habits such as exercising on a regular basis. These people are there in force at the beginning of January. But by February, the novelty of this new exercise begins to wane and there are few more elliptical machines open in the evening.

The YMCA also sees a dramatic surge when the weather turns cold. The slick streets and whipping winds convince people that the treadmills aren’t so bad. They will remain inside until the weather turns nice or they have watched every episode of Law and Order.

And then there is the YMCA’s Lighten Up Team Challenge, which begins this week with the initial weigh-ins and fitness assessments. For the next three months, participants will take part in weekly group fitness classes, get in extra sessions in the weight room, or a few extra laps around the indoor track.

But will these new habits last? The common theory is that it takes anywhere from 21 to 29 days for a habit to become ingrained. Hence, the dramatic drop-off by February.

So whether you are part of Lighten Up or doing it on your own, figure out how to make a commitment to exercising on a regular basis...and how to make it realistic.

Those new to exercising need to figure out two issues. First, you need to figure a good time of day to fit in a workout.

While I hop out of bed to work-out at 5 a.m., my husband can’t wrap his head around getting up that early. One word: Naps.

Consequently, I don’t understand how he can run 3 or 4 miles late at night and then fall fast asleep right afterward. My mind and body is still racing for a couple hours after I’m done.

A common practice is to exercise while your child is also at the YMCA, whether for a swim lesson or basketball practice. Others prefer to stop by on their way home from work, knowing that once they get home, they won’t leave again that evening. And then there is the tag-team method, where one parents exercises while the other stays home with the small children; then they trade off...hopefully that same day.

The second issue to address is what kind of exercise do you want to do, whether it is a fitness classes, the weight room, exercise machines, or group sports. The options are endless and can be switched up, but should fit your needs and personality.

For the past year, I followed a triathlon training schedule so I spent a lot of solo time in the pool, on the bike or the treadmill. I simply didn’t have time for a fitness class. But over the past month, I’ve fit in a couple yoga classes and plan to try the new Zumba strength class next week.

So pledge to try out a new class each week or build your endurance on the cardio equipment for a month...whatever it will take to make that new healthy, active lifestyle stick. We want to see those fitness classes full and the treadmills whirring, whether it’s January or June.



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Braving the cold

  • As the year comes to a close, I️ was fully prepared to offer advice about trying something new, something different, something adventurous to start out the new year.

    In fact, I️ was going to promote an outdoor hike on New Year’s Day since the YMCA will be closed. And then I looked at the forecast….combine an outdoor hike with freezing temperatures and you will really be pushed out of your comfort zone.

    Red Willow State Recreational Area is one of 10 locations across Nebraska which are part of the First Hikes by Nebraska Games and Parks. The hike north of McCook is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. from the Archery Range parking lot with a second hike at 3 p.m. from the South Dam parking lot.

    Initially, the hike was going to be the perfect opportunity to get some exercise on Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. It was going to be the perfect opportunity to kick off the New Year on the right foot (or left), either is fine. It was going to be the perfect opportunity to get outside after building up all this fitness inside at the YMCA.

    But then winter actually rolled in. It is never a good day when there is a negative symbol in the weather forecast and over the next week, the temperature dips below zero more than a few times including overnight on New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day.

    When I️ agreed to coordinate this First Hike, I️ knew there was the possibility of adverse weather.

    As part of the Republican River Fitness Series, we monitor the weather but very rarely change a date because of the conditions. Last year, I️ did move the Reindeer Run from a Saturday to a Sunday because the wind was blowing around 47 mph and the windchill was approximately -43 degrees. But otherwise, we are outside rain or shine, snow or sun.

    And cold temperatures won’t deter me from going outdoors for a hike Monday on New Year’s Day either. I’ll just gather multiple pairs of mittens, a couple hooded sweatshirts and those flannel-lined jeans, which are not flattering but are terribly warm. It will be cold and there will likely still be snow on the ground, but I will be out there, trying something new, something different and most definitely something adventurous for the New Year.

     

    ***

    Just a few more days remain for new members to sign up without the joiner fee. The $50 fee will be waived for all those who sign up for a membership by Sunday, Dec. 31.

    If you have been telling yourself that you will lead a healthy, active lifestyle next year, here is the perfect opportunity to take a concrete step in the right direction….followed by a few more steps on the treadmills and indoor track.

     

    Registration is open through Sunday for the YMCA’s Lighten Up Team Challenge. You can grab 14 of your closest friends and family members to form a team or just sign up by yourself and be assigned to a team. Either way, you will be doing weekly workouts with this group of people for the next three months.

    The moment of truth is Jan. 2-7, when all participants will have their initial weigh-ins and fitness assessments. The kick-off is Sunday, Jan. 7 when everyone will gather in the YMCA gym for a group workout. The fee is $50 and you must be a YMCA member to participate in the Lighten Up.

     

    Finally, the YMCA will have regular hours through New Year’s Eve, when the YMCA will close at 5 p.m. The YMCA will be closed all day Monday to celebrate the New Year, reopening at 5 a.m. Tuesday. We hope everyone has a fun and safe New Year’s celebration.

     

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  • 29-Dec-2017

As the year comes to a close, I️ was fully prepared to offer advice about trying something new, something different, something adventurous to start out the new year.

In fact, I️ was going to promote an outdoor hike on New Year’s Day since the YMCA will be closed. And then I looked at the forecast….combine an outdoor hike with freezing temperatures and you will really be pushed out of your comfort zone.

Red Willow State Recreational Area is one of 10 locations across Nebraska which are part of the First Hikes by Nebraska Games and Parks. The hike north of McCook is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. from the Archery Range parking lot with a second hike at 3 p.m. from the South Dam parking lot.

Initially, the hike was going to be the perfect opportunity to get some exercise on Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. It was going to be the perfect opportunity to kick off the New Year on the right foot (or left), either is fine. It was going to be the perfect opportunity to get outside after building up all this fitness inside at the YMCA.

But then winter actually rolled in. It is never a good day when there is a negative symbol in the weather forecast and over the next week, the temperature dips below zero more than a few times including overnight on New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day.

When I️ agreed to coordinate this First Hike, I️ knew there was the possibility of adverse weather.

As part of the Republican River Fitness Series, we monitor the weather but very rarely change a date because of the conditions. Last year, I️ did move the Reindeer Run from a Saturday to a Sunday because the wind was blowing around 47 mph and the windchill was approximately -43 degrees. But otherwise, we are outside rain or shine, snow or sun.

And cold temperatures won’t deter me from going outdoors for a hike Monday on New Year’s Day either. I’ll just gather multiple pairs of mittens, a couple hooded sweatshirts and those flannel-lined jeans, which are not flattering but are terribly warm. It will be cold and there will likely still be snow on the ground, but I will be out there, trying something new, something different and most definitely something adventurous for the New Year.

 

***

Just a few more days remain for new members to sign up without the joiner fee. The $50 fee will be waived for all those who sign up for a membership by Sunday, Dec. 31.

If you have been telling yourself that you will lead a healthy, active lifestyle next year, here is the perfect opportunity to take a concrete step in the right direction….followed by a few more steps on the treadmills and indoor track.

 

Registration is open through Sunday for the YMCA’s Lighten Up Team Challenge. You can grab 14 of your closest friends and family members to form a team or just sign up by yourself and be assigned to a team. Either way, you will be doing weekly workouts with this group of people for the next three months.

The moment of truth is Jan. 2-7, when all participants will have their initial weigh-ins and fitness assessments. The kick-off is Sunday, Jan. 7 when everyone will gather in the YMCA gym for a group workout. The fee is $50 and you must be a YMCA member to participate in the Lighten Up.

 

Finally, the YMCA will have regular hours through New Year’s Eve, when the YMCA will close at 5 p.m. The YMCA will be closed all day Monday to celebrate the New Year, reopening at 5 a.m. Tuesday. We hope everyone has a fun and safe New Year’s celebration.

 

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Simple goal: Maintain not gain

  • With Christmas just a few days away, I have achieved a major accomplishment: I haven’t baked, created, or made a single Christmas candy or cookie.

    The cookie cutters are still on the top shelf, untouched since last December. The peanuts are still waiting to be turned into peanut brittle. And the Hershey kisses are only unwrapped to be eaten immediately instead of topping the peanut butter cookie.

    But that’s not to say I haven’t had my fair share of Christmas cookies and candies this holiday season already. Despite not getting to the holiday baking yet this year, gift packages of fudge and frosted sugar cookies have arrived on a regular basis. Trays of green, white and red confectionaries are available at every gathering for four weeks straight. And who can pass up the plate of goodies in the break room at the office?

    Which makes it all that much harder to stay competitive with my friends, who have placed a wager among ourselves to “maintain, not gain” over the holidays. They each entrusted me with a small wager to see who could get through Christmas and New Year’s without the nearly-mandatory holiday weight gain.

    We didn’t even try to fool ourselves that we would lose weight during December. Maybe some people have that willpower, but we just wanted to lessen the casualties of the season. It’s pretty simple: We must weigh the same (give or take one pound) or less on Jan. 3. Those who can achieve that goal get their money back. Those who fail lose their money and it is divided among the winners.

    It is enough motivation to get up on a cold, dark morning to go to the YMCA for a morning swim, when the warm, comfy bed is calling your name. O.K., the bed does win out some mornings, but that wager gets you up the next day for a fitness class or a couple miles on the treadmill.

    I will admit that if I had to weigh in today, my friends would be splitting my contribution. But there is still time to get back to the initial weight with a few more miles on the treadmill and a few less pieces of chocolate-covered toffee.

    While I am trying to stave off the winter weight-gain, others are joyfully enjoying each and every Christmas cookie, knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel in the form of the YMCA’ Lighten Up Team Challenge.

    There is still time to sign up for the 2018 Lighten Up program. Registrations will be accepted through Saturday, Dec. 30. You can sign up as a team, with up to 15 team members, or individually, where you will be placed on a team to do the weekly team workouts over the next three months.

    The initial weigh-ins and fitness assessments will be the week of Jan. 2, 2018. The challenge kicks off Sunday, Jan. 7, with an all-team group work-out. The YMCA gym will be filled wall-to-wall with people moving and jumping and, for those who haven’t moved this much in a long time, grabbing the person next them to keep from passing out. It is a sight to behold - that many people doing burpees and planks in unison - as people begin what will hopefully become a lifestyle change and a lifelong journey.

    The cost is $50 to join Lighten Up, which just coincidentally is the same cost as the YMCA’s joiner fee which is being waved during all of December for new members. So it is the perfect opportunity to join the YMCA without the joiner fee and apply those savings to joining the Lighten Up challenge.

    ***

    With the upcoming holidays, the YMCA will have a few changes to the facility’s schedule.

    The YMCA will be open regular hours through Saturday, Dec. 23, but will be closed Sunday on Christmas Eve as well as Monday for Christmas. Regular hours will resume Tuesday, Jan. 26, opening at 5 a.m.

    The entire YMCA staff would like to wish everyone a safe and Merry Christmas.

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  • 21-Dec-2017

With Christmas just a few days away, I have achieved a major accomplishment: I haven’t baked, created, or made a single Christmas candy or cookie.

The cookie cutters are still on the top shelf, untouched since last December. The peanuts are still waiting to be turned into peanut brittle. And the Hershey kisses are only unwrapped to be eaten immediately instead of topping the peanut butter cookie.

But that’s not to say I haven’t had my fair share of Christmas cookies and candies this holiday season already. Despite not getting to the holiday baking yet this year, gift packages of fudge and frosted sugar cookies have arrived on a regular basis. Trays of green, white and red confectionaries are available at every gathering for four weeks straight. And who can pass up the plate of goodies in the break room at the office?

Which makes it all that much harder to stay competitive with my friends, who have placed a wager among ourselves to “maintain, not gain” over the holidays. They each entrusted me with a small wager to see who could get through Christmas and New Year’s without the nearly-mandatory holiday weight gain.

We didn’t even try to fool ourselves that we would lose weight during December. Maybe some people have that willpower, but we just wanted to lessen the casualties of the season. It’s pretty simple: We must weigh the same (give or take one pound) or less on Jan. 3. Those who can achieve that goal get their money back. Those who fail lose their money and it is divided among the winners.

It is enough motivation to get up on a cold, dark morning to go to the YMCA for a morning swim, when the warm, comfy bed is calling your name. O.K., the bed does win out some mornings, but that wager gets you up the next day for a fitness class or a couple miles on the treadmill.

I will admit that if I had to weigh in today, my friends would be splitting my contribution. But there is still time to get back to the initial weight with a few more miles on the treadmill and a few less pieces of chocolate-covered toffee.

While I am trying to stave off the winter weight-gain, others are joyfully enjoying each and every Christmas cookie, knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel in the form of the YMCA’ Lighten Up Team Challenge.

There is still time to sign up for the 2018 Lighten Up program. Registrations will be accepted through Saturday, Dec. 30. You can sign up as a team, with up to 15 team members, or individually, where you will be placed on a team to do the weekly team workouts over the next three months.

The initial weigh-ins and fitness assessments will be the week of Jan. 2, 2018. The challenge kicks off Sunday, Jan. 7, with an all-team group work-out. The YMCA gym will be filled wall-to-wall with people moving and jumping and, for those who haven’t moved this much in a long time, grabbing the person next them to keep from passing out. It is a sight to behold - that many people doing burpees and planks in unison - as people begin what will hopefully become a lifestyle change and a lifelong journey.

The cost is $50 to join Lighten Up, which just coincidentally is the same cost as the YMCA’s joiner fee which is being waved during all of December for new members. So it is the perfect opportunity to join the YMCA without the joiner fee and apply those savings to joining the Lighten Up challenge.

***

With the upcoming holidays, the YMCA will have a few changes to the facility’s schedule.

The YMCA will be open regular hours through Saturday, Dec. 23, but will be closed Sunday on Christmas Eve as well as Monday for Christmas. Regular hours will resume Tuesday, Jan. 26, opening at 5 a.m.

The entire YMCA staff would like to wish everyone a safe and Merry Christmas.

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Benefitting others: Party Room now available - blog post image

Benefitting others: Party Room now available

  • The best time time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

    Maybe a bit over the top, but the quote sums up how I feel about programs we have added to the YMCA, which benefit those families with younger children families despite my children now being older.

    If we want our community to thrive, we need to be willing to sacrifice our desires for the good of others, develop programs we may never directly benefit from, or put something place which will last long after we are gone.

    While you may think this applies only to sweeping, grand gestures, it is the little things which also matter...even something as simple as a space for birthday parties.

    As most people know, I have seven children. The oldest is now able to drink legally, while the youngest will enter double-digits next summer. They are becoming more and more self-sufficient and the number of birthday parties I will organize which will include Spongebob or Barbie is quickly winding down. Yet, during my family’s heyday of kid parties, the YMCA was not an option...a fact my friends and I lamented for years as we struggled to find something fun and unique for the birthdays. It is difficult organizing party for a large gathering of young children, especially during the winter, when outside options are limited.

    But the YMCA recently brought back a Birthday Party Room, which is available on Friday evenings and Saturday and Sunday afternoons, coordinating with recreational swim times.

    While a party room may seem trivial, it is an important asset to the community - just ask any parent who is trying to figure out how to entertain a dozen seven year olds.

    It has been more than a decade since the YMCA was able to host birthday parties. The room dedicated to parties, as well as meetings, was transformed into a fitness room for the rYde program for indoor cycling. The class was a great addition to the fitness schedule, but it left the YMCA without a place for birthday parties until another room was organized for birthday parties.

    Why do we need a birthday party room?

    For starters, it is a location which doesn’t require me to clean up my own house before or after the party. Of course, parents are still required to clean up the YMCA’s party room after the kids leave, but I’d rather clean one room than trying to get my entire house in order. (I realize the kids are not going to notice my freshly scrubbed toilet, but it will still be done.)

    The party room is a location which is large enough to house a dozen or more small children, which is not an option for many people.

    And most importantly, there is the pool. Very few of us have our own swimming pool, so your child has now had the best birthday ever - or at least for a few weeks.

    This isn’t the first time the YMCA has begun a program which benefited those with younger children just as mine aged out. A few years ago, the Y started Child Watch, a free child-care program for members to use while in the facility. It is what enables some parents to play coed volleyball each spring and fall or a group of young moms to meet in the mornings for a Zumba class, knowing their children are being entertained for an hour or two.

    There simply wasn't space to offer child care until a few years ago, when programs changed at the Y. Now, there are hours set aside for Child Watch throughout the week in both the mornings and the evenings, most coordinated with fitness classes.

    As a community, we may not directly benefit from a program, but we must remember that others will be thankful that it is in place. Ultimately, we need to look at the big picture and do things for others.

    And I’ll wrap up with another favorite tree quote: Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” ― Anonymous Greek Proverb.

     Text

  • 14-Dec-2017

The best time time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

Maybe a bit over the top, but the quote sums up how I feel about programs we have added to the YMCA, which benefit those families with younger children families despite my children now being older.

If we want our community to thrive, we need to be willing to sacrifice our desires for the good of others, develop programs we may never directly benefit from, or put something place which will last long after we are gone.

While you may think this applies only to sweeping, grand gestures, it is the little things which also matter...even something as simple as a space for birthday parties.

As most people know, I have seven children. The oldest is now able to drink legally, while the youngest will enter double-digits next summer. They are becoming more and more self-sufficient and the number of birthday parties I will organize which will include Spongebob or Barbie is quickly winding down. Yet, during my family’s heyday of kid parties, the YMCA was not an option...a fact my friends and I lamented for years as we struggled to find something fun and unique for the birthdays. It is difficult organizing party for a large gathering of young children, especially during the winter, when outside options are limited.

But the YMCA recently brought back a Birthday Party Room, which is available on Friday evenings and Saturday and Sunday afternoons, coordinating with recreational swim times.

While a party room may seem trivial, it is an important asset to the community - just ask any parent who is trying to figure out how to entertain a dozen seven year olds.

It has been more than a decade since the YMCA was able to host birthday parties. The room dedicated to parties, as well as meetings, was transformed into a fitness room for the rYde program for indoor cycling. The class was a great addition to the fitness schedule, but it left the YMCA without a place for birthday parties until another room was organized for birthday parties.

Why do we need a birthday party room?

For starters, it is a location which doesn’t require me to clean up my own house before or after the party. Of course, parents are still required to clean up the YMCA’s party room after the kids leave, but I’d rather clean one room than trying to get my entire house in order. (I realize the kids are not going to notice my freshly scrubbed toilet, but it will still be done.)

The party room is a location which is large enough to house a dozen or more small children, which is not an option for many people.

And most importantly, there is the pool. Very few of us have our own swimming pool, so your child has now had the best birthday ever - or at least for a few weeks.

This isn’t the first time the YMCA has begun a program which benefited those with younger children just as mine aged out. A few years ago, the Y started Child Watch, a free child-care program for members to use while in the facility. It is what enables some parents to play coed volleyball each spring and fall or a group of young moms to meet in the mornings for a Zumba class, knowing their children are being entertained for an hour or two.

There simply wasn't space to offer child care until a few years ago, when programs changed at the Y. Now, there are hours set aside for Child Watch throughout the week in both the mornings and the evenings, most coordinated with fitness classes.

As a community, we may not directly benefit from a program, but we must remember that others will be thankful that it is in place. Ultimately, we need to look at the big picture and do things for others.

And I’ll wrap up with another favorite tree quote: Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” ― Anonymous Greek Proverb.

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Mixing water and photography

  • Does anyone still put together photo albums? After all, it takes a lot of work.

    Sure, taking the picture is nearly effortless with cameras on everyone’s phone. But then you have to download the picture somewhere, get it printed, pick up the print, locate a photo album with open pages and - here’s the biggest hurdle - actually finding the time to put the picture in the album. That is a lot of steps.

    Instead, if you are like me, you flip through the pictures on your phone or your computer, telling yourself that you will print them off at some point.

    I spent an entire hour the other day, engrossed in the pictures on my computer. I started out looking for a specific picture but then was soon enraptured by everything my family and I had done over just the past year.

    Losing hours looking at pictures isn’t anything new. Who hasn’t been cleaning at their house and come across an old photo album? Next thing you know, the afternoon is gone because you couldn’t wrap your head around being that young…plus you still didn’t have a clean shelf.

    I didn’t help matters this week when I decided to print off all the pictures on my phone. Even after deleting the 213 fuzzy shots, the 142 selfies and 334 duplicates trying to get the perfect shot, I printed off 200-plus pictures.

    Most of the pictures were of my family on vacation, at races or posing with the latest pet. We have had a lot of pets. The most recent pictures were from the YMCA youth swim team’s meet in Grand Island on Saturday.

    At the end of the meet Saturday, I was flipping through the pictures, looking for the best to post of the team. I quickly realized there weren’t many. Part of it had to do with me using just my cell phone to take pictures.

    But swimming has an added level of difficulty.

    Any sports photography requires split-second timing to get the perfect shot, but swimming has several additional elements to make it more tricky for that frame-worthy picture.

    First, there is the inhospitable environment: It’s usually hot and humid, fogging up lenses and causing condensation on the camera or the phone.

    If you can see through the lens, it is hard to tell one swimmer from the next on each team. Unless they have their name on their swim cap, they all look the same.

    And finally, photographers are dealing with water, a lot of water. The athletes are under water most of the time; they are splashing water at they cross the pool, blocking the shot; or they turn their head for just a second, only to put their face back into the water.

    If the swimmer is looking at the camera and smiling mid-stroke, they probably aren’t aiming to win their heat.

    I found four pictures from Saturday, which were worth printing off. Every single one of them was the kids on the starting blocks, talking to the coach or cheering on a teammate…all of them out of the water. I guess that is better than nothing, especially when the pictures will likely stay in a shoe box for the next decade or two when I get around to putting them in a photo album.

    ***

    Speaking of swimming, good luck to the McCook High School swim and dive team Friday during their second swim meet of the season and their first home meet at the YMCA.

    The YMCA pool will close at 12:30 p.m. Friday to prepare for the meet with diving to start at 3 p.m., followed by swimming at approximately 4:30 p.m.And the YMCA youth swim team will be serving concessions in the lobby during the meet.

    So stop by to watch some of the best swimmers and divers in the state - many returning state qualifiers on both the McCook team and the visiting teams - at the Y on Friday afternoon.

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  • 08-Dec-2017

Does anyone still put together photo albums? After all, it takes a lot of work.

Sure, taking the picture is nearly effortless with cameras on everyone’s phone. But then you have to download the picture somewhere, get it printed, pick up the print, locate a photo album with open pages and - here’s the biggest hurdle - actually finding the time to put the picture in the album. That is a lot of steps.

Instead, if you are like me, you flip through the pictures on your phone or your computer, telling yourself that you will print them off at some point.

I spent an entire hour the other day, engrossed in the pictures on my computer. I started out looking for a specific picture but then was soon enraptured by everything my family and I had done over just the past year.

Losing hours looking at pictures isn’t anything new. Who hasn’t been cleaning at their house and come across an old photo album? Next thing you know, the afternoon is gone because you couldn’t wrap your head around being that young…plus you still didn’t have a clean shelf.

I didn’t help matters this week when I decided to print off all the pictures on my phone. Even after deleting the 213 fuzzy shots, the 142 selfies and 334 duplicates trying to get the perfect shot, I printed off 200-plus pictures.

Most of the pictures were of my family on vacation, at races or posing with the latest pet. We have had a lot of pets. The most recent pictures were from the YMCA youth swim team’s meet in Grand Island on Saturday.

At the end of the meet Saturday, I was flipping through the pictures, looking for the best to post of the team. I quickly realized there weren’t many. Part of it had to do with me using just my cell phone to take pictures.

But swimming has an added level of difficulty.

Any sports photography requires split-second timing to get the perfect shot, but swimming has several additional elements to make it more tricky for that frame-worthy picture.

First, there is the inhospitable environment: It’s usually hot and humid, fogging up lenses and causing condensation on the camera or the phone.

If you can see through the lens, it is hard to tell one swimmer from the next on each team. Unless they have their name on their swim cap, they all look the same.

And finally, photographers are dealing with water, a lot of water. The athletes are under water most of the time; they are splashing water at they cross the pool, blocking the shot; or they turn their head for just a second, only to put their face back into the water.

If the swimmer is looking at the camera and smiling mid-stroke, they probably aren’t aiming to win their heat.

I found four pictures from Saturday, which were worth printing off. Every single one of them was the kids on the starting blocks, talking to the coach or cheering on a teammate…all of them out of the water. I guess that is better than nothing, especially when the pictures will likely stay in a shoe box for the next decade or two when I get around to putting them in a photo album.

***

Speaking of swimming, good luck to the McCook High School swim and dive team Friday during their second swim meet of the season and their first home meet at the YMCA.

The YMCA pool will close at 12:30 p.m. Friday to prepare for the meet with diving to start at 3 p.m., followed by swimming at approximately 4:30 p.m.And the YMCA youth swim team will be serving concessions in the lobby during the meet.

So stop by to watch some of the best swimmers and divers in the state - many returning state qualifiers on both the McCook team and the visiting teams - at the Y on Friday afternoon.

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