When I was around 7 or 8, I had a bad experience in a swimming pool. It basically amounted to I had no idea how to swim, ended up in the deep end and almost drowned. or at least that’s how 7 year old me remembered it. After that I shied away from pools until my teen years. At least then I was 6 ft tall by now and could reach the bottom of most pools just fine. I even managed to teach myself how to swim, sort of. it wasn’t pretty but in a short burst it could get me to safety.
Fast forward to high school. Freshman year I have several friends who decided they were going to join the swim team. They tried to get me to join but I had to remind them that my swimming looked pretty anemic. However they persisted and even got the team coach to try and recruit me. It seems that they just needed bodies, since you got points for just finishing. Well I WAS a body and the coach offered to work with me before the next season began so I didn’t look like a spaz. I took him up on the offer and learned to swim the ‘right’ way. I learned how to use my legs, the right form for putting your arms in the water and pulling back and so on. The one thing I could not figure out was the flip turn. I cracked my ankle on the wall the first time I did that and as a result was always too far away when I did it resulting in a weak push off. Now don’t get me wrong, I still sucked at swimming, but I at least looked the part.
So Sophomore year I join the team. I enjoyed being on the team as it turned out I was friends to some degree with pretty much everyone on there. There were some wild parties and a lot of good times, probably future stores here, but I am going to tell of the long game today. So my first year of swimming goes by and it was fun. Like I said, I pretty much stunk up the joint but I did get us points. Back then, is you swan the 100 yard freestyle in 1:15 or less, it was pretty good. I was about 1:25. I was usually in the bottom 3 (out of 8) whenever I swan that event. I was also in one of the relays and the 500 yard race. I hated that one. Pros are under 5 minutes. Most of the good swimmers I competed against were between 5 and 6 minutes. I was closer to 7 minutes.
So my Junior year rolls around and we get ready for another season of swimming. Well we get the news that the coach decided to retire over the summer and was being replaced. It turns out that I sort of know the new coach. The lady they hired to replace him worked at the same grade school my mom did. So on the first day she makes the name connection and I became the ‘teacher’s pet’. Great. On the first week she wanted to make me a team captain. I had to fight her on that one. I am a nobody swimmer and that honor belonged to one of the seniors. She finally relented and changed it to one of the seniors, but the resentment was already planted. Over the next 2 weeks I got singled out for preferential treatment and each time it just felt embarrassing. I don’t know if she thought she was doing my mom a favor or what, but it certainly did not endear me to my teammates. The tipping point when they were taking yearbook pictures. There was some group that was represented by one male and female athlete from each sport. Usually the team captains were picked to represent the teams. Once again, she taps me to fill that roll.
That was the final straw, I quit. I got crap from some of my friends for quitting and from my mom, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to swim, keep in shape, get my team some points. Not be a focal point of inter-team politics.