I first developed my love for chlorinated water in first grade. The moment my coach forced my head underwater and held me down until I thought I was on the very of death was the moment that I knew I had to defeat the water. A normal, smart child would have been turned off from such an aggressive experience, but not me. From then on, I knew swimming was for me. In the classroom, I called my coach Mrs. Perham. But outside the constrains of my ABC’s in first grade, she was COACH Perham. She made that very clear. She was rigid all right; sloppy form and constantly gasping for breaths was unacceptable. As a rigid first grade teacher with her strict rules and ways, slacking off was not an option.
Coach Perham’s demanding coaching only prepared me for my next step as a swimmer. During elementary and middle school, I swam for the club team for the Naval Academy. As I got older, the practices got longer and harder. We would have two a days where we swam before the crack of dawn and then hopped back in the water after school. Never have I felt more fit. During those times we would swim for miles and miles and every time I hopped in the car I would be exponentially more jubilant than when I first dove in the pool. Swimming has this infectious ‘feel-good’ feeling about it. Sure, I might dread the cold water the first couple of laps, but by the end of the workout, I had happy endorphins rushing through my body. Not to mention that I had the pleasure of swimming in one the most beautiful pools in the state of Maryland. Every away meet could not compare to the vast expanse of lanes that the Naval Academy Pool had to offer. With two-a-days that sandwiched my school day, the smell of chorine became my traditional perfume as my slightly green hair always complimented by outfit, no matter how much I bathed. Little did I realize that I was going to put the most rigorous swimming days of my life behind me as I transitioned to high school.
Because I attended a rather completive high school, I decided to put swimming on the backburner as I focused on academics. No longer did I swim for the Navy club team, but I decided to stick to my school swim team. Joining the school swim team was a couple steps back from the Naval Academy, for our practices ran only an hour and we had long periods of rest in between each set. Plus, swim team was more of a social event since the majority of my friend group joined the team. If you didn’t have technique and skill before joining the club swim team, it was probably unlikely you ever would; it was very lax. Because the practices was more laid back, our team definitely a blast. Every year we did the Polar Bear Plunge, where we took a dip in to the frigid (and sometimes partly frozen) Chesapeake Bay in January. Swimmers and teams of all types would unite on that dreaded day to freeze their toes off, but at least we were all able to freeze together as a team.
Unfortunately, because I stopped swimming for the club Naval Academy team, but my technique and form has dwindled significantly. However, regardless of my shape, skill, or form, I love to swim and know it will always hold a special spot in my life.