The last swimming & diving SCIAC finals race went like this: I was on the block for my final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay, trying to keep my game face on (Well, for me personally, the idea of putting on a game face was so I could get angry enough to not feel the bodily pain during the race). But for my last race, I couldn’t. I was smiling. I had the widest grin, chuckling and struggling to stay serious.
On the other end of the pool were my teammates, cheering, yelling my name. Then, the usual Take your mark, beep. I dove in, and finished some 40-something seconds later. Got out, and shook hands with my teammates. I was sitting on the ground, and just looking at the people around me. The race ended. Then the women’s races ended too. Everyone was just chanting, “No more swimming! No more swimming! …”
Looking back at that moment on the block, I suppose I was smiling for several reasons. From the last chant, you probably get the vibe that nobody likes swimming. Well, you are not completely wrong. Most of the swimmers don’t just dislike swimming; they really hate swimming, with the most immense passion. I was definitely smiling because the four-day meet was coming to an end.
But at the same time, I cannot deny that I was smiling because of the team I am part of. The whole team was cheering so hard for each other all four days. Some lost their voices after the first night; most lost their voices after the fourth. The fact that these people exist—that no matter how you do in the end, win or lose, they will always congratulate you—is priceless.
What this horrendous four-day meet taught me is that, yes, swimming sucks, but strong bonds are created with those that go through the suffering (or enjoyment if you are one of the rare cases of swimmers). Through the terrible 7 a.m. morning practices, I found friends. Through the rough sets every day, I found comrades. Through the swim meets that took up half my weekends, I found family.
A lot of us really, really hate swimming. Why don’t we quit? Why do we keep doing things we dislike so much? As cliché as this may sound, we stay because of the team. We stay because of family. Because as busy as we may get for school work, we can always make time for swim the same way we make time for our loved ones. After all, it is totally worth it.