The Waters that Shaped Me

Me taking on the water

Me taking on the water

To accurately describe my history of swimming is not simply a resume description of when I started swimming, where I trained, who my coaches were and the successes of my team and myself. No. This is simply too trivial, and it disrespects the nature of the water. I resist to look at this resume description of my swimming history or specific moments of me in the water because it discounts the whole story, the whole nature to my being. There are more reasons, than triumphs, that cause me to find solace when encountering the aroma of chlorine. There are more reasons, than triumphs, as to why I am always itching to jump into a pool, into another world, into what I have cultivated to become my sanctuary.

People may say that it is swimmers who put on costumes before they dive into the wonders of the water, but it is actually within the space of the pool where my costume comes off. Seeing fleshy bodies stand in uniform in front of the pool made us all look equally vulnerable. It took away the materialism of clothing, and allowed me to interact without any cares of the social hierarchy and class structure that clothing may permit. This created an open space where I located myself, found myself, and became myself. This is where I met my first puppy dog crush, who gracefully swum in the lane next to me. This is the place where I have met some of my closest friends, who I still keep in contact with today. This is also the place I have turned to when I have lost a loved one, who I feel connected with when I’m in the water. The water does not only create a separate community, but also creates a separate world, thus making swimming the perfect escape for me.

My swimming history is a history of my fears, my heartbreaks, my struggles and my failures. It is a history of all my ailments, which the water healed. It is a history of lessons that were taught to me at an early age, like how to cope with the suffocating feeling that comes when the carbon dioxide builds up in my body, and the mind games of waiting to exhale. This, however, taught me the joys of breathing, the joys of living, and the euphoria one feels after overcoming an epic challenge.

To give a history of my swimming would be to give histories of my coaches and my teammates lives. A history of a community that worked together, held our breaths together, and struggled together. As a team, we used the struggle of the workout as an outlet for the struggles and challenges that pervaded our lives. Then in the aftermath exhaustion of a long workout the sharing of our fears, joys, laughs, and stories would begin.

Swimming is what I turned to whenever I found myself losing balance on this tightrope walk of life. It was the good swim that grounded me, balanced me, gave me flight, and gave me a wonderful community. This, however, is not suppose to merely appear as a history of a sport and me, but a history of the water and me. For if you trace my youth and adolescence then you will also be tracing my life in the water, because everything that you will discover about me, that defines me, revolves around my relationship with the water. It is the water that soothed me, eroded me, and shaped me. It was the water that smoothed out those cancerous tumors that were the result of the teenage angst that once plagued me.

 

A song that I have often listened to during my many years of swimming.

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