From the summer after kindergarten to the summer before my senior year in high school, I spent the majority of my time swimming. Each morning my mom drove my sister and I to the pool for swim practice. Mine was always earlier, at nine, while Lara’s was at ten. While I loved swimming, I hated practice until I was in high school and swam at a summer league team closer to home. A huge part of the reason was the cold water – I procrastinated as long as I could before jumping into the cold pool. I mean, who could blame me….I was eight years old and probably 3 to 4 inches taller than most of my friends, not to mention extremely skinny. I also hated practice because at that particular pool, I was one of the few who didn’t swim all year, making me slower than everyone else. Trust me, I held my own against the other 8 year olds that dedicated their young lives and souls to Dynamo Swim Club and Swim Atlanta, but it was still disheartening to be the last in line at practice and have annoying team members grab my toes because I was swimming too slow.
Geeze, I forgot how annoying that was….it’s like an 8 year old’s version of tail gating.
Anyways, basically swimming was all about the stupid colored ribbons we received after each swim meet. Blue for first, red for second, white for third, yellow/gold for fourth, green for fifth, and so on, up until the rainbow colored participation ribbon.
I hated the rainbow ribbons.
Fortunately, I usually found white, yellow, green and maroon ribbons in my folder, which was disappointing, but I loved the special occasions when I’d find a blue ribbon in my folder. My disappointment was also eased by the traditional Dunkin Donuts doughnut hole bounty we received on Fridays. So basically, my love for swimming until I was 13 was highly related to my love for colored ribbons…and doughnut holes.
When I was 13, I switched to a more laid back, less competitive swim team that was closer to home. I knew more of the people on the team from school and I ended up making a lot of new friends as well. I didn’t compare myself to my teammates as much as I did on my old team, which made the summers more enjoyable. I started appreciating swimming as a competitive sport and as a team sport. During the meets, my friends and I would various poker games, eat junk food (swim meet food was the best – giant pickles, sour straws, ring pops, blow pops, baby bottle pops…the green variety, of course, and pizza), and just hang out. By then, swimming was less about the silly colored ribbons and more about bettering my own times, spending time with my friends, and swimming!
Although summer league took up a lot of my free time during the summers, I still miss it sometimes. This summer I started swimming at a ginormous outdoor pool on campus instead of the indoor pool in the gym, and man, what a difference it makes! Swimming indoors was kind of blah, much like running on a treadmill….no atmosphere, just mindless movement. When I swim outside, I can marvel at the gorgeous water – I love seeing sunlight reflect in pool water. A few other requirements this pool met include:
1. Clean, as in minimal floating debris (bugs, leaves, hair, etc) and clear, crisp water. There’s nothing worse than getting hair caught on your fingers while swimming freestyle.
2. Cold water. There’s nothing worse than swimming in a luke warm pool.
3. Not overrun by the public. This pool is huge, like three pools side by side, so the kiddies can have their play area while the lap swimmers can have their own lanes. There’s nothing worse than sharing a lane with someone (see toe grabbing, above).
As you can see, being a water rat has made me very picky about my pools. Anyways, I guess the point of this post is just about sharing some love for a sport that has stayed with me my entire life. Sure, I’ve had my ups and downs with swimming, but it’s the one sport I feel I’m naturally good at (although I never really felt inclined to hone it through club swimming) and have truly enjoyed. Swimming outside, for me, makes it fun and not forced – that’s what activity is all about, right? It’s amazingly calming and therapeutic to swim outside in the sun – this is corny, but a pool in the sun is one of my favorite sites to see.
On a side note, I hope to start posting more food oriented posts again soon, but I think I’m going to start including more non-related posts like this one and the Harry Potter post. Updates probably won’t be regular – I’m trying to blog when I feel like it instead of feeling obligated to update and having it feel like homework. I’ll be baaaaaaaaaack!