That Time I Went to Nationals

As per usual, I am stuck in the library, trying to figure out what to write about. Legit, having finished most of the work ahead of me for the next week, I am having one of those moments when I’m like, This feels weird… I haven’t been this free for a while. The most 'sensible'  thing to do would be to be to tell you about my break.

Well, I went to Nationals for PPSD (Pomona-Pitzer Swimming and Diving). That’s about it. A whole week, seven days. (You know when people say “I went hiking for a week!” they actually just meant four days, so I have to specify here.) I spent my spring break with nine other swim mates. Fun stuff. Yeah, I think I’m gonna tell you more about my break. From my last article, you got the tip of the iceberg: A day in my life. Now, I am going to know a little more. Still the tip, though.

The Monday of spring break, we left from campus at 4:25 a.m. so we could catch a 5:45 a.m. flight to Texas and then another flight to Greensboro, North Carolina. After we got to the hotel at around four, we left to get to the pool for a swim. I really needed that. The flights got me really sore. After the swim, we went to get barbecue (I knew barbecue was a huge deal in the South, but it didn’t occur to me that North Carolina was in the South…). I would say, do better research before choosing a restaurant, especially when you’re an athlete—portions really matter. We fixed the portion size issue by ordering two pies. It was Pi-day, so apple pie and chocolate pie sounded quite appropriate.

Day two was pretty similar. We got up early for a morning swim and then mostly stayed in our hotel. At night, we went to a banquet. Everyone dressed up quite differently. Just the five men on my team are so aesthetically different (diversity, right?).

The meet went from Wednesday to Saturday. There is really nothing to talk about when it comes to the meet–a swim meet is a swim meet. The vibe is mostly the same across the board. It’s mostly the speed of the swimmers and the number of swimmers participating that change from meet to meet. But then again, the swimmers at Nationals come from all around the country; they’re the top swimmers at their schools, so naturally there would be fast swims. And there were! There were record-breaking swims and intense out-touch wins (the wins that are within 0.1 sec). To be quite honest, those were exciting moments. I don’t even remember how many times I clapped for the great swims there.

I suppose what I liked the most about the trip was less about swimming and more about team bonding. I’ve been to so many swim meets in my life; they are mostly the same to me. Because we spent quite a lot of time at the hotel, some swimmers and I bonded over watching Gordon Ramsay comment on people’s food on MasterChef. We laughed together, felt bad together. We bonded over the selection of music, and over Snapchat. It was a great experience for me because I got to know them so much better over a matter of seven days. I guess the extra month of training was worth it after all, given how much I got out of the experience.

On Sunday, we got to back to campus at 10 p.m. A group of Sagehen swimmers were waiting in front of Haldeman with a banner, which had each of our names on it. It was the end of swim season for me. And this finale just reminded me of how much love exists within PPSD.

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