Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Revisiting an Old Friend: The Pool


In the middle of my run last night, I had a revelation: I miss swimming.

I swam for ten years for the North Shore Piranhas at the Jewish Community Center of the North Shore. For four of those years, I also swam for Marblehead High in Mass.

My swimming career then abruptly came to a stop when college started. I made the decision not to swim because I knew how much dedication and discipline it took to be a swimmer.

I never had the guts to quit in high school because I loved my coaches and I loved my team, but when picking colleges, swimming was never an issue. As a result, I realized I was tired of the sport and knew I wanted a fresh start.

But, I never fell out of love with the sport; we just took a break.

So last night, when I was doing my usual jog, I realized something was missing in my work out routine. I realized it was lacking "fun."




Swimming is fun in the sense that it's a fun, competitive sport... as well as an incredible workout. It also has the added benefit that although you sweat, you don't feel sweaty (something I know bothers a lot of people).

So in addition to my promise to myself to stay fit while being in the "real world," I also promise to get back into the pool. I miss gliding through the water and I miss feeling so sore you can't move from bed the next morning.

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The following is an excerpt from my essay on my most memorable swimming experience, the day I made Districts:

Ready, Set, Go
The freezing water smacks my face and the chlorine engulfs my body. My feet turn into propellers and begin thrusting the water behind me. The shoulder-burning motion, rhythmic dolphin kick and hip-flowing dance push adrenaline through every muscle in my body. I focus on the clock. The ticks on the electric board are sending vibrations down my spine. I pull harder, motion faster and kick stronger. It is just me and the clock. That is all I care about.

Pool Rules
That’s all she cared about. I grew up surrounded by screaming parents, scary coaches, body-building women and Speedo-wearing males. While most five-year-old girls were playing with dolls in the park, I was poolside playing with the program. While most parents spent their money on weekend romantic getaways, my parents spent every weekend of every month for ten months eating at the closest restaurant to a YMCA.

How did they get me to attend every meet she swam in for the next four years of my life? Bribery. Every swim meet brought promises of a new teddy bear, Fisher Price doll house, Malibu Barbie and chocolate-covered almonds. The toys distracted me from the fact that I’d been sitting for seven hours on gum-infested benches in 90˚ heat, surrounded by over-caffeinated parents. That was my deal—and they kept their side.

I didn’t miss a single swim meet between the ages of five and ten. I learned addition by watching the swimmer’s strokes race against the numbers on the electric board. I learned how to handle money each time my father bought me a bagel and hot chocolate for a treat during the night meets. I learned how to read people’s body gestures.

A disqualification brought out fear no lion, tiger or bear could breed—only an upset coach. A loss brought out tears and flexed fists. A win brought out smiles and admiration by a nearby parent. However, as much as I hated the ten hour car rides, mom’s morning kisses at 4 am, and dad’s twenty minute pep talks, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It was her dream, their dream—which made it mine.

Fish Out of Water
Now, I am living mine. The white heavenly wall is coming into view through my black, tinted goggles. I am close. My dream is only a couple kicks and paddles away. No one could have imagined it would come down to this moment. Flexing my abs, curling my legs and pushing my head down, I flip against the wall. First lap finished. One left......


Here's what swimming means to athletes Michael Phelps and Natalie Coughlin:

It helped me relax. I felt comfortable in the water. I was in my own world, focused. I love sports and I'm a very goal-oriented person. Once I started falling in love with sports, it was easy. I was able to put my mind on something and go for it. That's how I am with everything, it doesn't matter what it is that I do. If I want to do something, nothing will stand in my way.
-Phelps
Swimming is an interesting combination of having fun and working hard," Coughlin said. "I do emphasize being passionate about what you do. When you're spending five hours a day training, you have to love it.
-Coughlin


Also, read about the benefits of swimming:

What's Good About Swimming


The Health Benefits of Swimming



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