Why do we Swim? I bet if you ask swimmers everywhere, you would get a myriad of answers. This class has revealed that swimming is not as cut and dry as it may seem. All swimmers are different and for them, the water can either be a tool for competition, meditation, or record-breaking. In order to answer this May-mester long question, I’ll imagine asking a few different swimmers why they do swim indeed. First up, Alex.
1. Alex (who works the front desk at the PAC)
Alex and I have had numerous conversations about fitness and exercise and as a graduate training to be a Navy Seal, he has had numerous early pool workouts. Unfortunately, he did not pass one of the tests for the Navy Seal program, so for him, maintaining a peak level of fitness in the water is key for him in order to be accepted in to the program. There are no fun and games here. For Alex, swimming might “get lonely and repetitious”, as Nate Jackson, an NFL player, would classify swimming. Every workout Alex pushes himself 110% to get better. For him, swimming is part of a refined workout regime to help him achieve his goal as a Navy Seal. He swims because he’s not giving up on his goal of being a Seal. He swims for the endurance and the heart-pumping thrill of water rushing over your body as you break mental limits to train harder and harder.
2. Miles (Dr. Menzer’s son)
Now, I haven’t actually asked Miles why he swims, but I’d imagine the question would produce one of the following responses: (1) “Because my mom signed me up” (2) “Because it’s FUN My friends are on the team and we have a blast hanging out and splashing around in the summer. It’s just what every kid does!”or (3) “Because gosh I love to swim!Aside from the asthma that is…”
By no means do I mean to put words in his mouth, but I’d think those would be common response’s of kids his age. Summer swim league is a time to frolic and play on the swim team with friends. Even though being on a swim team at that age is usually mom-induced, the majority of kids seem to have a grand ol’ timeswimming for the Devenger Dolphins. For them, swimming is a summer pastime, much to the contrary of Alex’s intense PAC workouts. As students progress through school being on the summer swim team as well as school swim team, the sport can prove to be an outlet for them. Away from the stress and anxiety of school work and academia, the pool can separate a maturing adolescent from school, parents, (and maybe peers). Whether alone in the water to think or not, simply the physical separation of being in the pool is enough to be a stress-relief in the hectic life of a student, who can never seem to break the bonds of work and school.
3. Lynne Cox / Diana Nyad
For these women, immersing themselves in water is like entering a completely different world. They are not confined to pools like competitive swimmers alike; they enter free and dangerous waters that put them in compromising positions. As Lynne Cox writes in her book, Open Water Swimming Manual, “Nothing compares with breaking free the the confines of a swimming pool and swimming in salty or sweet waters”. They are like aquatic travelers testing the corners of the globe.
The reasons they swim are slightly different than that those of you and me, or even Miles. They swim to push themselves in challenges conditions and circumstances; they swim to exit the hectic world and leave themselves alone with their thoughts, feelings, and emotions. They swim for adventure. As swimming icons they spark the sport of open water swimming with determination, drive, and hard work. Beyond that, they swim to inspire athletes, individuals, or swimmers to never give up and work hard to achieve their dreams and goals.
So what do we think? Is there an answer to this month long question? I have my theory…
Overall, the reasons people swim are not that different. Whether you ask a beginner swimmer who’s just trying to get better, or a Navy Seal maintaining a physical peak or a record breaker like Diana Nyad or Michael Phelps, they all have a common goal: to succeed. Stripped down, they all just want to improve – to find a better version of themselves through hard work, determination, or even just relaxation and solitude. In the end, we want to be the best version of ourselves. And water can help us do just that.