Yesterday, I put on my Speedo Fastskin for the last time and competed in my final race. I’m used to hanging up my goggles and closing my dresser drawer dedicated to practice suits until the next season – but for the first time in…forever, there isn’t another swim season ahead of me. I always knew the end was coming, but it’s hard to believe that my competitive swimming career is over.
I’ve gone through many team caps, many different styles of goggles and suits and (way) too many tie-dye swim meet sweatshirts. After the years of training, the torturous practices, the incredible friendships and coaches, and competing in pools (and lakes) of every shape, size, color, scent, and fog-level…I simply have too many thoughts and emotions about swimming to squeeze into a Facebook post or Tweet.
Thanks to my serious lack of hand-eye-coordination (throwback to the horrors of middle school phys ed, nightmares about badminton, and intentionally getting myself ‘out’ in dodgeball so I wouldn’t have to play…this could be a blog post within itself), I have not fully experienced many other sports besides swimming – but I believe that swimming is one of the few sports where it doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or how old you are. All that matters is what you do when your feet leave the blocks, when your body breaks the surface of the water, when your hands hit the wall. It’s the sport where months and months of training amount to a few short moments, minutes, seconds.
There have been moments of victory…
…moments when I just wanted to go home…
… and lots of smiles and laughs.
I won’t miss practically living at the pool over winter break, the dry skin, the hairy legs, and perpetually having wet hair. I won’t miss swimming 10,000 yards in one practice, standing outside in negative temperatures to get a “good spot” on the pool deck, the sickly Listerine-like-scent of “motion lotion,” and crowded meet warmups where hitting the lane line is unavoidable and being able to do a flip turn is a rare occurrence. I’ll miss the quick silence at the start of the race and the muffled screams that I hear as I lift my head above the water. I’ll miss the friends, the teammates, the coaches, and the inside jokes.
I’m so thankful to have been a part of many great teams, to have known many great coaches, and to have grown both as an athlete and as an individual over the course of my swimming career. I couldn’t have done it without everyone who has supported me, including my friends, family, grandparents, and especially my parents, who drove near and far – through blizzards, ice, traffic detours, and more – to cheer me on.
In the end, the good memories outweigh the bad. It’s all been so great, and I am so happy to have shared my last race with my team at state finals.
Here’s to new beginnings,