I wish I could just dissolve into the water. How many more times would everyone have to overlap me before the coach realized he had made a mistake in allowing me to join the swim team? I mean, I had tried out like the rest of the sixth graders and gotten in fair and square, but it really was a miracle. I shudder as I remember being the only one who had dived off the edge while the seasoned swimmers soared off the blocks.
I cry into my goggles, thankful for the pool water that disguises my tears. As another swimmer glides past me and the rest of the lane snakes behind her, I distract myself by coming up with more reasons why Mom should let me quit the swim team.
I fast-walk across the deck (no running!) and gather as many mats and noodles as I can, leaving the inner tubes behind. Not a fan of those. Pushing my loot in the water, I follow suit, cannonballing into the pool while crying out, "ATTACK!!!"
Unsuspecting swimmers peacefully enjoying the swim team's end-of-year pool party drop from the surface one by one as we flip them over and steal their floaties. All the while I'm narrating the ambush like a maniacal robot: "INVADERS. INVADERS. INVADERS."
A girl joins me in my plight. She's one of the swimmers who's always at the front of the lane. I haven't made my way up there yet, but I'm okay with my place in the middle, maybe even a little proud, considering I had been dead last at the beginning of the year. Negative last, really, considering all the times I'd been overlapped.
I get a closer look at her and realize she's one of the girls in my drama enrichment class. I played a hobo and she played a grumpy old hag who didn't tolerate hobos (or anyone else). But for the greater good, we put our alter-egos aside to team up on a soon-to-be-tipped swimmer, creeping up on either side of his mat.
Mission: success. I glance over at my accomplice and see that she's already wreaking havoc on another poor soul. I think to myself, Sheena's a pretty cool chick.
Swimming is so boring. All you do is swim in circles and stare at the bottom of the pool. That's what non-swimmers always accuse us of. To that I say that I enjoy the rhythm and developing an awareness of my body, choosing a different part to focus on and adjust with every lap.
But essentially, you're right. When you're not wheezing to keep up with the intervals, it does get a little boring once in awhile. So we need to come up with ways to be nuisances and amuse ourselves.
All of a sudden, Alison stops in front of me and is hanging onto the lane rope. Without missing a beat, 段教练 (Coach Duan) yells at us to keep going. Alison clutches a leg with her open hand and wails, "Ahh! 抽筋!" (cramp!). I swim up to her from behind and pretend to worry, stalling for time.
"Are you okay?" I ask. But in my head I'm thinking, "Dammit, now I'm gonna have to wait a few more laps before I can fake my cramp." I guess I could just finish this length and pretend I need to clear my goggles. Although I might as well just fake a cramp right now because the coaches know whatsup.
Sheena swims up to us and joins our chorus: "抽筋!"
Swimmers from other schools are scattered around our gym, waiting to be marshalled. One team is stretching together in a corner. Another team is cheering on deck. Some teams play basketball in the middle. And then your eyes fall on our team.
A pile of bodies wrapped up in multi-colored swim parkas are splayed out on top of each other. A slight undulation with every breath indicates signs of life. I shuffle through the mass, looking for my school gear, but try as I might, I can't seem to remember where I had stripped. The coaches will not be happy to see me receiving my award in nothing but a wet suit.
Yuki comes to my rescue and offers me her shirt. As we make our way to the awards, she asks me if I want her pants as well. Right into the announcer's mic. The announcer tries to suppress her laugh.
And so it is bittersweet to graduate and leave the swim team family. I'm gonna miss the games of Egyptian Ratscrew we play to pump ourselves up for meets. I'm gonna miss when we host meets and have more people over for Nerf wars even though we should really be resting up. I'm gonna miss the ultra warm and comfy swim parkas. I'm gonna miss the swimmer innuendos.
My hand slices through the water and it rushes past my ears, drowning everything out. Except for me of course. How ironic would it be for me to die drowning in a pool?
Wait what? What am I doing in a pool anyway?
Swimming is a physical sport, but competing is a mental game. And no matter what anyone tells you, swimming is a team sport. Just watch the last relay of a meet and you'll know it's true.
Together, the BMC s'women and I are whisked off to Florida for a premature but most welcome taste of summer. There's no better place to defrost than from a bright condo on the beach front.
I won't be swimming anymore this coming school year--I'll be officially retired, for real this time--but I'm so thankful to have had the opportunity to swim at the collegiate level, even if it was only for a year. If I could go back in time, I wouldn't have it any other way. How else would I have met some of my best friends?
It was difficult telling my coach that I wouldn't be swimming anymore. After all, if it was such a great experience, why not keep swimming?
Sometimes you gotta put something aside to make room for something better. It's a truth I've been trying my best to come to terms with. It doesn't get any easier the more times you do it. But it's worth it.
And so, once again, it is bittersweet to leave the swim team family. Especially after sharing the beautiful time together that was Florida.
Remember six years ago when Facebook Notes were a huge thing? Well, there was one I posted called "Yes I'm a Swimmer," the content copied verbatim from a post I found in some Facebook group:
Top 12 reasons why you should swim:
You have nothing better to do at 5 AM.
Chlorine is cheaper than perfume.
You can enjoy banging your head on the wall.
Swimmers don't need weekends.
Goggle marks are in this year.
Tight suits make you look thin.
Hello! Guys in Speedos!
Green hair is cool!
Swimming makes you tough.
You live for the competition.
Saves the trouble of taking showers.
You love swimming in circles.
Top 10 reasons to date a swimmer:
They like it wet.
They dive right in.
Love going fast.
Are used to wearing next to nothing.
Breaststroke is a favorite to many.
Others like it on their back.
They are experts at putting rubber on and can do it fast.
They know how to push it and work under hard conditions.
They are firm believers that practice will make you better and will at any time day or night.
Are used to doing things again and again until you can't go on any longer.
Top 10 reasons to be a distance swimmer:
More swim for my money.
During the race, I have more time to sing to myself.
Distance swimmers can count higher.
Plenty of time to go to the bathroom before your heat.
I can name all the swimmers that compete in my event.
People cheer for me longer.
I can still win after doing a cannonball start.
I'll have the best chance of survival if my ship sinks.
Lap counters kneel before me.
I got guts.
Top 10 reasons to be a sprinter:
Sprinters never get lapped and are always on the relay.
I sprint because I can't go that long without my walkman.
You think I want my dad crawling on the deck for me?
Sprinters are generally more gifted -- God gave me the gift to swim fast.
I don't want my friends hearing my mom scream for 5 minutes.
My race is over before I get my hair wet.
Anything over a 100 is water torture.
I get dizzy and confused when I do too many flip turns.
When I swim during the Olympics, I don't want any commercial breaks during my race.
You're in... You're out... It's over.
You've seen two vlogs on the blog already (May Day and Chapter Camp), but this vlog is the first one I made, so it's a little sketchy. Nevertheless, I've decided to share it. Well, part of it anyway. The filming was really shaky for the first three minutes and mostly documented the airport and our grocery shopping trip at Winn-Dixie's (which doesn't sound very exciting but was) (and what? Winn-Dixie's is a real place??) so I cut it out and left the last two minutes for you. Enjoy!
There's a link to the deleted scenes in the description box of the vlog, if you are so inclined.
Oh yeah, and in case you're confused, the first minute of the clip is of us attempting to steal brownies from some of the girls. They were very thorough with their grocery shopping. We unfortunately did not have the foresight to shop for dessert.