I didn't swim in college. I went to a smallish Division I school that didn't have a swim team, so I joined a sorority instead. By then I was ready for a break from swimming anyway. But now when I look back on it, being on the swim team in high school was one of the best times I can remember.
We were a genuine team. A family, almost. We were quirky but we had fun, and not to brag, but we were good. We always seemed at the top of the pack, including my freshman and senior years when we won our conference meets.
Parts of my life were shaped in large part to my time spent at a pool. There's no crying in swimming (seriously - we maybe made fun of swimmers who cried when they lost). There's no quitting or skipping sets. You've got to have pride in what you've accomplished, even when it feels crummy to lose a meet by two points against one of your biggest rivals. We had a long list of goals, that I still have somewhere. They all still ring true.
To this day, a handful of the people I keep in touch with from high school were teammates.I don't think I'll ever be able to replicate the camaraderie that I found as a member of the swim team. No one will ever call me Swim Bible in my everyday life (but yes, that was my nickname on the team). But recently, in my attempts to increase my fitness as part of my half marathon training, I decided I was going to try to go to the local masters swim workouts. And I have to say, I was surprised.
I wasn't surprised at how hard it was to do any workout that contained butterfly. I wasn't surprised at how many 500s we would swim on a distance workout day. I wasn't even surprised at how much yardage I could cram into 80 minutes of swimming. But I was (pleasantly) surprised at how nice people were.
I'm not sure why. Somewhere along the way I have learned that swimmers (and triathletes for that matter) are friendly folks who are sometimes a bit odd. If you know any swimmers or triathletes (and probably runners), you know that they are a little bit more eccentric than other active people. They wake up at 4 or 5 to train. They train sometimes multiple times in a day. Almost every day of the week. For fun. But still, to have strangers tell me hello and good morning, and wish me a good day as I leave the locker room... it's not the type of greeting you would usually receive many other places.
For me, swimming fills a void. Yes, swimming two miles is hard. But it sure feels great to be back in the water.
|Look at that form...|
If you want to make a love connection with the pool, consider joining a masters team in your area. Being part of a masters team will give you a workout, and someone to push you out of your comfort zone. You might not go to meets together and have t-shirts with slogans about winning (like one of my favorites from my freshman year: We are one*. [*One that will beat you.]), but you will at least find others who are doing something they enjoy and want to work hard at.
Were you on a team of some sort in high school or college? Do you ever miss it? What sort of activities have you found in your adult life that keep you connected to something you enjoyed from your past?