A tribute to swimming

Happy 10th anniversary to the love of my life

Approximately 10 years ago this week, I attended my first ever swim practice in northeastern Pennsylvania the summer before I joined my high school swim team. My unfit, lazy self had decided it was time to get in shape. On my hunt for the right sport, I chose swimming because I’d always enjoyed swimming at the beach and my backyard pool, and my best friend at the time was on the swim team. How hard could it be? I thought. Little could I foreshadow its impact on my life 10 years later…

Swimming: At times, it’s been a love-hate relationship; we’ve struggled through injuries, rocky periods, loose flip turns, poor stroke counts and improper breathing habits. Heck, there has even been a (rather unfortunate) period of around six months of NO (or almost no) swimming.

Swimming, I love you for the physical benefits you provide. Without you, I’d probably be a ginormous mass of laziness. You never fail to make my traps, biceps, lats, pecs and deltoids feel like they’ve just been pounded with mallet hammers. Of course, without you I wouldn’t have any traps, biceps, lats, pecs and delts.

I am so thankful I rededicated myself to you in January 2006 with the lovely, boisterous group of Fairfax County Masters, where marriage engagements and regurgitating pre-practice snacks are a somewhat regular practice occurrence. Swimming, you’ve connected me with many of the most treasured people in my life, and for that, I will never cease to be grateful. You’ve kept me off the streets and out of trouble. Without you, I wouldn’t have anything exciting or unique to talk about when meeting random people in social settings and would just be another boring body, lost in the crowd. I wouldn’t have an excuse to travel to fun places to do exotic races with names like Fat Salmon and Big Shoulders. What more could I ask for?

Swimming, I can’t imagine life without you. What else would I possibly rather be doing at 5:45 a.m.? And what fun would you be without the hyper-chlorinated pools? Red splotches, dry itchy scaly skin, goggle marks, cap lines, suit hickeys–you really know how to make a lady look sexy. Despite all this, swimming, I love you. Open-water swimming, I love you even more. For the challenge; for that exhilarating feeling when you’re trying to break away from another swimmer clobbering away at you. For turning my pretty, brightly colored swimsuits black. For the privilege of swimming in the Potomac River, where fish are known to change sexes. For the opportunity to swim 4.4 miles between the Chesapeake Bay bridges, and for the lovely t-shirt, sized for a small gorilla, that I received as my badge of honor. And for the large red present from my wetsuit that lingered on my neck for two weeks, which gave unsuspecting non-swimmers the impression of a recent attempt at hanging myself.

For currents, tides, waves, sea animals, varying water temperatures, scummy water, the taste of saltiness and the thrill of avoiding a kick to the face and a knocking off of the goggles. No race is ever the same.

Swimming, I love you. It’s been a great 10 years. Though I’ll peak at some point, and eventually my body will become old and I’ll get slower, I hope we can share the next 70 together in aquatic harmony.

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