I swam today! And I don’t mean just playing around in a pool. I swam laps. Half a mile did I swim, and, though this is nothing to what I once could accomplish in the same amount of time (a mile or more), I am incredibly proud of this half mile, because I have not swum a lap in at least four years. Not bad for starting out, I say!
In college, I discovered a love for swimming. Laps, that is. I spent about ten years on swim team as a kid, and I kind of hated most of it. I absolutely loved the social aspect and the fun of the meets on Monday nights, and even getting ribbons for my race efforts. But practice was something else entirely.
You see, I was never very good at swimming. I certainly was not bad by any means. However, put me against the kids on the team who were considered “good”, and I paled in comparison. I was better than the couple tubby kids, and I had decent speed, but my endurance just wasn’t there. Because of that, I was never at the front of the line in practice, and near the back was not where I wanted to be. I was also utterly exhausted before practice was ever even over. So, I didn’t much like swim practice, and even disliked it a bit…, which meant that I went less and less often as Ingrew older. This also meant that I get worse and worse, when compared to all the kids who actually attended every practice (and most kids had been on the team as long as I had).
All of that being said, I was truly surprised when I fell in love with swimming in college. I always respected and almost revered swimmers as glorious doers of beautiful sport. I always rather envied them (minus the really broad shoulders). But I also always disliked practice. It’s almost surprising that I did swim team longer than any other sport, but for the fact that my mom required us to do swim team. To this day, I do not know how I got out of swimming in Open (ages 15-18), but I was beyond delighted that my swim team days were finished before I had to be slower than everyone in my age group. 13/14’s were tough enough for my morale.
I wasn’t on the team in college or anything, but I did attend the meets that happened on campus, and I loved them. It wasn’t until my third (and final) year that I started swimming myself, though. I joined a water sports class and tennis class in order to fulfill my sport credits for school, and somehow also ended up going swimming in the pool during the nighttime opening hours. Perhaps my inspiring friend Genevieve got me to go with her one night to start, and then I kept going on my own after that.
In the water sports class, there were mostly non-athletic people in it, and so we often just had inner tube water polo on the schedule. I disagreed with the inner tubes on principal for the game, but the level of competitiveness actually got me quite irritated in class. This is not mean to be harsh, merely matter-of-fact: If you aren’t good at something, you aren’t allowed to be fiercely competitive in it. Some of these people were yelling and going crazy over this game that Inhad already passed as casual and fun, since almost no one was any good at it.
So, I eventually asked the coach if I could swim laps instead for class. He might have denied me at first, but then realized how desperately I wanted to do it instead of water polo, and so allowed me for any time we played that particular game (which was often). The first time he agreed to it, he told me that it was ‘okay, but only if you swim a mile.’ I honestly told him that I likely was incapable, but he chuckled and I realized that he was joking.
I trained at nights on the days we didn’t have class, and worked hard in my swimming. I still remember the excitement I had on the day I climbed out of the water near the end of class and told him, “Okay, done.” I had swum a mile during class, which was only a 45-minute class. I had barely done it in time, but I had done it. The coach was nearly baffled. He expressed that he had been merely joking about the mile. I told him how I knew that, but figured I’d go for it, anyway. He was impressed. He didn’t think he was capable of swimming a mile in any length of time. I had earned the recognition I had hoped in my silly endeavor, which only added to my joy of accomplishing the task itself. I was not a swimmer, but here I was, quickly swimming a mile, and able to rush off to tennis class immediately afterward.
One thing to add about that time swimming: My body was incredibly happy, and it looked great, too. Ever since then, I have been convinced that swimming is one of (if not the) the best full-body workouts around, with amazing results.
Here I am, years later, finally in a pool again. I have more to my body than I would like for there to be in certain areas, and not enough to satisfy my muscle goals for my body, so I truly hope I find a way to get this swimming to be a regular and often thing again, and that I do it. Because I really do love swimming.
P.S. A fellow ALT (assistant language teacher) recently mentioned how she had a student who was attempting to express that he was a swimmer, and so he wrote, “I am a breast stroker.” Gotta love things getting lost in translation. 😛