Posted by: realifemermaid | March 9, 2012

18 Years of Competitive Swimming

Swimming is an amazing sport. I am obsessed and in love with it, even if I do have to leave the containment of the square, measured out, chlorinated box of water for the genuine, fluid type. But, still. Swimming is in my veins and arteries. In my skin. Literally…even when I haven’t been swimming for awhile and I get warm, my skin seeps out a unique odor resembling a freshly chlorinated pool.
Last year, I decided that I needed a break from swimming. I tried some Wing Chun Kung Fu for awhile, and within a month, promptly broke my leg. My ACL pulled out in one piece out of the tibia, pulling some bone out like a cork. WIth the ligament strong than bone, my body reall was formed by the water. After two surgeries and months and months of physical therapy, I made several attempts to go back to the water. This last month seems to be for real.
I have been amazed with how little my life has changed, in some respects, as in adult of nearly 27 years old to how it was when I was 10 years old. When I was 10 years old, I went to swim practice a few days a week, swam a little over an hour, focused on a few meets, but mostly was excited for the social aspects and how swimming gave me something different to do–something that made me stand out from the other fifth graders at my elementary school, and a special comraderieship amongst my swimming peers.
Now, at 26 years old, I go and swim a couple days a week, have fun, compete sometimes but am more focused on enjoying swimming and how it gives me something to do…something that sets me apart from the 20-somethings that spend most of their time at the bar for their social scene.
Well. At least most of the other10 year olds didn’t spend most of their spare time at the bar.
Swimming post college, whether on an established masters team or just by yourself, is an insanely enjoyable experience. Before I took my break from swimming, I was still stuck in the “college swimming” mindset. Focused on getting to the pool enough times a week, racing the person in the lane next to me, getting in enough meets, even tapering for a big meet at the end of the year.
I realized, then, that I really had it all right when I was a 10 year old swimmer.
Swimming is more about getting to the pool after a day of school and enjoying being outside, swimming under the palm trees and the sunset, with the smell of orange blossoms in the air. Talking to your friends at the end of the lane. Getting ready for an open water race because of the t shirt you will get that day.
On Tuesday this week, I dove into the pool, surrounded by five of my master swimming buddies, most of them also former college swimmers. It was just the most comforting feeling to be surrounded the familiarity of starting yet another warmup, surrounded by friends, stretching out, washing away the day, getting your blood flowing.
It made the days in the year or so that I wasn’t seem a little unnatural.
Almost like not brushing your teeth for awhile.
Ew.

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