TWO EVENTS that have become Howard County traditions are on the sports schedule next Sunday.
RUNNING: You'll have to rise early for the 26th annual Clyde's American 10-kilometer run, which begins at 8:15 a.m. on Little Patuxent Parkway between The Mall in Columbia and the American City Building.
The course winds north past Fairway Hills Golf Course, briefly onto Route 108, then back through Columbia's Running Brook neighborhood, around Little Patuxent Parkway and home to the place it started.
The run typically draws more than 1,000 participants and is the Howard County Striders' premier springtime event.
As usual, a post-race brunch put on by the sponsor, Clyde's of Columbia - within easy walking distance of the finish line - is an attraction for many runners.
The race will be timed again by each runner wearing a ChampionChip, a computer device that doesn't start timing a runner until he or she crosses the start line. In large fields, runners in the back lose precious seconds getting to that line.
The Striders keep scores for age groups in addition to overall top finishers for men and women. Runners will range in age from young beginners to 70-plus.
SWIMMING: One of the more spirited swim meets in the county will begin at 1 p.m. the same day at Howard Community College's Aquatics Center.
This is something of a feel-good event, in that it pits swimmers from the county's public schools competing for school honors. The event is backed by the Columbia Clippers swim team, Columbia Park and Recreation Association and the college.
Note the absence of the county's public school system from the sponsor list. That's because swimming isn't a recognized sport locally at the high school level. Save those bucks.
Besides individual honors, team scores will be tallied for each of the 10 teams by high school affiliation for the 27 events. Most swimmers have learned locally and have swum either in county summer leagues, for the Clippers - a year-round club that calls the Columbia Swim Center home - or for the Howard County YMCA team.
The winning team takes the Hurley Challenge Trophy, named in memory of a former participant, Katie Hurley. She was a River Hill High School senior who was 17 when she was killed in a fluke accident - a falling 4-ton rock loosened by a campfire - while playing in the season's first snowfall in Highland two days before Christmas 1998.
Seniors on the top two teams will receive a cash donation for a drug- and alcohol-free graduation party.
Here are a couple of excerpts borrowed from the Columbia Aquatics Association's Columbia Clippers Handbook, which all members of the year-round swim team receive. That book, posted on the club's Web site, outlines team policies and procedures, as well as expectations, for youthful swim team competitors and for parents and coaches.
From a section dealing with frequently expressed parental concerns:
Concern: "My child is not competitive enough to win races."
Club response: "Slow development of competitive drive at an early age is normal and perhaps more desirable than precocious or forced early development.
"It is important that everyone learns to compete and develop some competitive spirit.
"It is also important for children to learn to adapt to a reasonable amount of emotional stress. The small disappointments they learn to handle as children prepare them for the larger ones they are certain to experience as adults."
Concern: "My child is losing his/her enthusiasm."
Response: "A parent's attitude and actions often shape [his or her] children's attitude and actions. Be enthusiastic about taking your child to practice and meets, fund-raising events and meetings. Do not look at these functions as annoying chores.
"Do not force your child to swim. Be sure that your child swims because [he or she] wants to. Everyone tends to resist anything they feel they have to do. Self-motivation is the stimulus of all successful swimmers."
Know something interesting about amateur teams or athletes in the county? Share the info. Call the writer at 410-332-6525 or send e-mail to lowell.sunderland@balt sun.com.