Do you ever just miss someone or something out of the blue? You miss it so suddenly and so bad that it hurts; like you’ve been pushed back and shook up at the same time?
I swam competitively for 8 years of my life. I started out in the fifth grade with a local YMCA team called the Tigersharks. Before that, I had been taking swimming lessons since kindergarten, which was the year I took the floating and beginning class like 5 times.
Before that I wouldn’t even get my face wet, all I could handle was the kiddie pool in my back yard, which I would rig up super water park style- complete with my play slide drug from across the yard.
After 5 years of lessons, my mom finally decided that I didn’t need to take the top level of lessons for the fourth straight time, so she signed me up for the team.
I was super nervous, and also super bad. Like I sucked. There were kids on the team who were my age making nationals cuts, and I was there swimming the wrong stroke at my event. But boy did I love it. It was my favorite thing in the world, being a member of something bigger than myself. Being on a team, having teammates, being proud to wear my city’s colors.
So I worked. I worked as hard as I could, as much as I could. I went from worst swimmer on the team to winner of the most improved trophy 4 years in a row. I listened to my amazing coaches, and learned more about myself in my eight years in that pool than I think I could have ever learned without it.
I swam 8 years and never once got first place, but if you ask me, I won it all.
I cried. I sweat. I made friends and I made enemies. I made memories that I will remember for the rest of my life.
And for these reasons, I miss swimming more than I can handle sometimes. For these reasons, I am friends with some of the most amazing people I will ever meet in my life. For these reasons, I found who I am.
They say that kids should do sports, that it builds character and morale and responsibility. Swimming did more than just build me up. It ripped me down, stomped on me, and forced me to build up an empire instead of a village.