In many ways Susan and I followed a similar swimming path post college; that path was that we just stopped swimming. In stark contrast many of my teammates continued to swim on Masters teams, coached younger swimmers with passion, attended the National championships as Alumni, all the while demonstrating that their swimming fervor was still alive. Mentally I had moved far out of the pool and I was eager to watch my arms slim down to slinky, sexy, wimpy lady arms (18 years later I am still waiting for my arm muscles to retreat). In business school where I met both Susan and Carrington, they tried to convince me to be part of a relay at the MBA Olympics but there was no convincing me. I was so mentally detached from organized sports, I didn’t even attend the MBA Olympics despite the fact that my best friends from the program were all going and it was going to be a great time.
I was 19 when I swam my last race and, I have “done laps” sporadically throughout the years that have passed. Sporadically is perhaps an exaggeration, I can remember the 4 times in 18 years that I attended to “train”. When I was 24, working long hours in NY I was inspired to get back into shape so I went to the pool and swam a half and hour every day. That lasted one week. When I was 27, working on London, I headed to the pool to swim laps 3 times a week for the month of July as my weekends jumping off a boat in the Spanish Mediterranean motivated me to feel strong again. Next, after having my third child, I signed up for a triathlon thinking that it would force me to get rid of my post pregnancy figure so I trained in a hot, 15 meter relaxing spa pool. During those three short-lived phases, I never swam more than 1500 yards in one session as staying in the pool for more than 40 minutes was psychologically impossible. Finally, last fall, Susan and I made a plan to swim together a few times a week. Each one of us would write us a practice and we ended up doing 3000 meters one day. But, like most things in life that aren’t a priority, our schedules got complicated and we didn’t end up doing more than 4 sessions together.
Our team leader, Mauricio was well aware of this refuse swimming behavior and proposed that we swim 2 days a week with Marnaton, an open-water team that trains during the week in pools in Barcelona. Getting back in the pool with an organized team has been both awkwardly familiar and strangely comforting. My last year swimming on the Kenyon team was my best year, I made personal bests in most of my events (the only event that I never went faster in college than in high school was the 100 Fly). I was a fortunate benefactor of the elite Kenyon program, its rigor, toughness and success, made me into the person I am today. It also has given me a sometimes exaggerated idea of myself in the water. I remember how fast I was, and how hard I swam so I naturally think I can do anything in the water. At the same time, I recognize that my swimming muscles are out of shape and that I must keep my ego in check because I am not who I used to be. During the Marnaton practices (I have been to 4), I have this mental tug of war, on one hand I think I should be faster than most of these people as they didn’t grow us swimming as I did, but at the same time, I know that I don’t deserve to be cocky because I haven’t done anything in the water in what feels like half a century. To my pleasant surprise, however, I am not the slowest in the group and knowing that I am just getting back into it, pushes me to work hard again. Most importantly after 18 years out of the pool, at the age of 37, I want to be a swimmer again.