My Brief Foray Into Competitive Swimming

I don’t think it’s going to come as much of a surprise to you that I was not a big sports person when I was a kid, namely because I just used the phrase “big sports person” in a sentence. There isn’t a competitive bone in my body, and if I have a choice between watching TV and running around in a circle for an hour, I am going to go with the TV, thanks. It doesn’t make my chest hurt as much and I don’t have to take a shower after using it unless I have a bag of Cheetos by my side. (Side note: Spellcheck did not just highlight “Cheetos”, which is either scary or hilarious.)

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I couldn’t find any pictures of me in a bathing suit, but I can do you one better.

So yeah, no elective sports for pre-teen Emily. But parents will be parents and mine made me participate in some summer intramural activities. For a few years, I played softball during the summers for our local non-competitive league. On our first date, I thought B was a Big Sports Person*  so I played up some story about how I caught a flyball in the outfield when I was twelve, and from that point on couldn’t keep the scouts away. No better way to impress gentleman suitors than to regale them with stories of your adolescent athletic prowess. I also took Taekwondo lessons in elementary school because I evidently felt threatened by all the thuggery traipsing around our suburban paradise. I quit by the time I hit sixth grade because I needed to focus on our school’s Just Say No glee club.

*He had a crew cut at the time, and that read “sports” to me. I don’t even know.

My mom and dad decided one summer that it was a good idea to sign me up for the swim team at our country club. Don’t worry; we were pool members only. Can we still be friends? Our family’s ID number that we had to use when we signed in for the pool was 666. That has absolutely nothing to do with the story of the swim team but I have been holding onto that tidbit for awhile and I don’t know when else it’s going to come up. I mean, how often do you get to talk about how the mark of the beast came up during your childhood? Not often, unless you are a member of My Family Had to Write 666 On a Clipboard Every Time We Wanted to Use the Water Slide and Eat Pixie Sticks at the Country Club Anonymous.

Can you tell I’m stalling? There’s a reason for that.

You see, my story of being a swim teamer is very short. I did it for two weeks. Two weeks of waking in the morning and being carted to the pool to swim laps. Two weeks of looking at awkward little boys wearing Speedos and seeming oddly OK with it. Two weeks of not admitting my inability to hold my breath without pinching my nose as I stuck my head underwater. Two weeks of plotting ways to get out of this activity while I sucked my tiny belly in while loitering around the pool.

And that’s the reach of my memory. Swim team eventually was phased out because I guess my parents actually wanted me to enjoy my summer. Parents really aren’t all bad. Swim team was cancelled for me, and I got to visit the pool in the afternoon when the lane markers were removed and Sprite – not Gatorade – was being sold at the concession stand. I am kind of glad that I don’t have much else to say about swim team. Childhood is traumatic enough that one shouldn’t have too many stories about swimming when they don’t want to.

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41 comments

  1. :) Two weeks is still something! Sounds like the average time most of my childhood passions lasted… that sends me down memory lane…

    1. If you want to chase that memory, write a post about it and then link up with us ;D

  2. My parents signed me up for a golf camp because “golf is a life skill.” Okay.

    It was horrible. This post brought back the memories of that. I’m now going to eat a bag of Cheetos.

    1. Golf IS a life skill. How else would we learn to foster that unique contempt for argyle?

  3. I hate swimming. I don’t mind being in the pool, but I can barely swim because I refuse to submerge my head and blow bubbles or do whatever is the standard method of breathing underwater these days.

    My mom never really got me into any sports. I kind of wish she had, but something cool and out of the ordinary, like badminton or something.

    1. Breathing underwater is the worst. I could never master it either. When we were staying at hotels during our vacation, I tried taking C to the pool and she unilaterally despised it. Smart cookie.

  4. 666. You are the luckiest girl in the whole wide world. That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever heard.

    1. I live a charmed life.

  5. […] week’s blog hop topic from The Waiting and Zebra Garden is “Remember the time…we went to the pool?”  And boy, howdy, […]

  6. OMG. Every single sentence of this made me laugh my head off! I feel like I have seen that Taekwondo picture before sometime, but it was fresh to me today in all its glory. I am going to make sure I am in the same room as Eric when he reads this so I can hear all his snickers. Love you!

    1. Thank you! I remembered while I was writing this that you and Martin really WERE swim teamers! I am fairly certain you could have beaten me in a race. Except if the race were the dag paddle 100 meter. Cuz I rocked that.

  7. Ashley Austrew · · Reply

    Oh my god. I hate internet speak, but LOLZ FOR DAYZ is the only way to describe this.

    1. Ashley Austrew · · Reply

      The part about B and his crew cut. I had to go back and read the post to Zach because he was looking at me funny for laughing so hard.

      1. Best compliment ever! When I get shared with a spouse, I am doing something right ;D

    2. I for one LOVE Internet speak so I will take your lolz for days and raise you a ((((((hugs)))))), OH MY GAWD I CANT EVEN, and *clicks glasses together.*

  8. I joined swim team for 1 day (all my friends in jr high were doing it for a while) – I couldn’t swim properly so they put me in the kiddie lane -so I was behind kids whose swim trunks would fall off, and they were probably peeing too… I decided that I didn’t really relish sweating in the water at age 13. Once when I was in 5th grade, I thought I’d try swim lessons and didn’t know how to shallow dive, so the coach said do it the same way you normally dive -so I did and promptly hit my head on the bottom … that ended that. He ended up being my favorite high school English teacher who would smoke in the back ‘teacher’s room’ and always smelled of mint gum and whiskey. I loved his classes and being his aide for debate – but he was a horrible swim coach :) – he was my Hunter S Thompson influence … hee hee..

    1. That is so funny that you ended up knowing him as an English teacher later in life. But yeah, he should have just stuck with the books and not so much the pool.

  9. And your post made me laugh RIGHT OUT LOUD!

    1. Thanks! I didn’t think this one was all that funny when I was writing it, but it seems like everyone is getting a good laugh out of it so I guess I’m doing something right ;D

      1. I love they way you view yourself. It’s genuine and funny.

  10. Very funny story. I’m sure there’s a post waiting to come about the Taekwondo too. (I hope)

    1. I have an AWESOME Taekwondo story. It’s actually one of my favorites of all time. It’s from when we were living in Korea ;D I need to figure out a way to write about it…

  11. Dude, I had not idea you were such a Taekwondo bad ass. I have no good pool stories…because we hardly ever went to the pool growing up. We did have an inflatable baby pool we’d break out every now and again, trying to look pathetic enough that our neighbors would invite us over to swim in their real backyard pool. I think it only worked once. End of story.

    1. Isn’t that always how it is? If you look pathetic enough, some kid’s parent will take pity on you and invite you over to jump on their trampoline and maybe get a decent hot meal too? Half of my childhood was spent trying to get invited over to the house of the kid who had Duck Hunt on their Nintendo.

      1. Now, we DID have Duck Hunt. I would have totally invited you over. Especially because the only other kids in our neighborhood where the ones who either always wanted to play He-Man or the ones who threw hedge apples from the trees at us.

  12. This reminds me of when my mom put me in dance class when I was 5. I cried on stage and quit with the promise that I could always come back. I never did.
    I did do swim lessons, though, and my brother and I wore nose plugs to keep from getting water up our schnozes.

    1. I did dance lessons too! Mine weren’t as traumatizing, but that’s amazing considering how insanely seriously my dance tap instructor took everything. I remember having to sit in a circle with my fellow classmates when we wouldn’t shut up, while she yelled at us. We were seven. Good times.

      1. Sounds like intense times.

  13. Hilarity. I love the way you “mines” info from days past. That 666 member ID is a gem.

    1. Thanks! My brain stores a lot of really important information.

  14. My sister was a swim team girl for years. It was awful. All the hours of my life stuck watching people swim in a straight line that I will never get back.

    1. Ugh. I can imagine.

  15. Nothing says, “I am loved” like a french braid and a karate belt. great read

    1. This is the best comment ever. My mom SLAVED over those French braids.

  16. The 10 Things Blog · · Reply

    I did competitive swimming, but on the reals, for several years and I wasn’t half bad at it. Kinda wish I’d kept it up into my late teen/adult years, but, ya know. Mistakes. I ended up playing tennis in high school instead (on a whim!) and I was really, really bad at it. I actually remember the one match I won and feeling oddly proud of myself. Nevermind the rest that I didn’t win. At least I tried, right? I love your stories. And if it makes you feel any better, I wasn’t at all a jock. I was a theater nerd trying to make friends. SURPRISE it didn’t work. Theater nerds are weirdos. We totally are.

    1. I played tennis in high school too! AND I totally sucked at it! I went to a small school that was desperate for members for the team, and they’d pretty much take anyone as long as they showed up for practice. Some of my equally-sucky friends signed up and so did I. I never played in any matches, but I did get free lessons out of the whole gig, which I think my parents appreciated. All they had to do was buy me a racket.

  17. Swim team? Ugh. That sounded like two weeks of sheer misery for you, but I am also looking forward to your Taekwondo bad ass tale. My father was a jock. He excelled at every sport. You name it and he could do it better than anyone. My mother was his complete antithesis, the type that could shoot at arrow into the sky and miss. I take almost entirely after her so I never learned how to swim. Where I diverged is that I learned how to ride a bike like a demon and my scrawny right arm was like a canon. I was the only girl that could throw a ball as far as the boys. My brother was adamant that I would never throw like a girl. He’s not a swimmer, either.

    1. I am really interested to see which way C leans as far as sports go. B isn’t by any means sporty in a do-or-die way, but he is more athletic than I am and he was a long distance runner until he was injured. I hope C has a bit more zest for, y’know, moving than I am.

  18. I’m glad you worked in the 666 thing. You’re right, it probably wouldn’t have come up any other time. This was it’s moment.

    1. You really have to jump on these things.

  19. Love being in water… most any water. I float… really well.

Now you can hold the magic talking stick.

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