Swimmer of the Week:
As a kid growing up, swimming was just play. My cousins had a built in pool and our family would visit and swim on the weekends. We would pretend to have tea parties on the bottom of the deep end of the pool. My mom and dad could both swim and gave us some basic instruction. The instruction I remember most was about diving into the pool. I would kneel on one bent knee, arms overhead and push myself in with my other leg. Later I graduated to the stand-up dive; bending over, arms overhead and falling in. As I grew older, I attended summer camps and enjoyed the water activities. Swimming across the lake and canoeing were my favorites. I had never competed in anything. I had not been a part of any team in high school or college. I did, however, swim in the Oakland University pool while I was a student! I swam for pleasure and exercise. Gradually I began swimming at the Royal Oak and the Birmingham YMCA and fell in with some buddies who were serious swimmers. We swam at 6am before work. I was the slowest, and always brought up the rear.
When I was 32 years old I enrolled a Community Education Springboard Diving class. I was just as scared to dive off the diving board as all the other 8 to 12 year olds in my class!
Windsurfing is where and how I met my husband Steve. He, our 2 daughters, and I enjoyed many sporting opportunities together; bicycling and speed skating with the Wolverines club, skiing (downhill, telemarking, diagonal and skate skiing) in Northern Michigan, mountain climbing out west, indoor and outdoor rock climbing, kayaking, sailing, and rowing. Swimming, however, I did by myself early in the morning. Babysitters had to come early to our house because Steve’s job required him to travel about 50 weeks a year and I had to swim early before work.
Swimming was hard to sustain with growing children, my work schedule, and a traveling husband. I was fortunate that GM eventually permitted me to work part time, with some of the time based out of my home! I worked a lot of time between 5:00-8:00am and then after I took the kids to school, I went swimming.
In 2009 we moved to Milford because of our 2nd daughter Lauren’s passion for horses. I was now retired. I had taken care of both of my parents and they had both passed away and Steve was still gainfully employed and traveling. I did a lot of the farm work caring our house and property including our 3 horses, a dozen or so dairy goats (milking the dairy goats 2 times per day), fiber goats, 30 to 100 chickens, ducks, and turkeys. At some point farm work was not enough exercise. I wanted to swim again. My first thought was to go to the YMCA because that’s what I knew. The water was too warm, and the pool was dimly lit. In August 2014 I started to swim at the Milford High School pool. One particular September morning, the pool was crowded like crazy. I asked this lady on the pool deck, hey what’s going on here? Suzanne of course! “Stroke reset!” she said.. I thought, swim lessons, just what I always wanted. I’m IN. Compete? NO! I’ll just take the lessons. Suzanne was so infectious. I wanted to learn and I wanted to please her. Susanne; magnetic or all-encompassing sucked me in, in a good way! Love her! Jack Colliton my “swim husband”, Kathy Burkhart, and I all started around the same time. My lane mates were Jim Coleman, Gordon Frenette, Jack, and Kathy. I began to swim and felt like an athlete. We became swim buds! I became part of what felt to me like a core group. Everyone encouraged each other about swimming and life. Kathy Burkhart and I became the dearest friends and still are to this day. Entering meets was something I said I would never do, but low and behold, that is exactly what I did, and loved it!
Coaches changed. Dianne, Kris, Jim, Melissa and Maria all brought their individual style and strength to the team. What a wealth of knowledge all these coaches have. I have benefitted as a swimmer from my experience with each one of them as well as Elayne Peters who hired me as an assistant coach for the Huron Valley middle school team. Being a swimmer became who I am.
Then when I became ill with Leukemia in February 2018 swimming was the thing I missed the most. My family and friends were by my side but the feeling of water on my head, the smell of chlorine, the strength I felt while swimming, the friendship and comradery I felt with my teammates and friends; I missed that A LOT. This swimming community stood by me, all the time, and all the way. Sending me cards, visits, messages, and pictures. Community support initiated by Irene Kennedy and Kris Goodrich and MAC teammates came to my home on several occasions to help with weeding and mulching gardens and repainting horse fencing. Our MAC team has welcomed me every time I return to the pool in my de-conditioned state. This team has embedded itself in my heart.
I brought Steve to the State Meet in April of 2019. He and I were timers all day. As a result of that experience Steve felt the warmth and inclusiveness of the team. He already knew how much I loved this team and knew how much the team had supported me. Steve said to me a short while after the meet “You know; maybe I should learn to swim.” So with only 2 or 3 more MAC Lite classes left for the season, Steve began to swimming,during a time when I could not. He is a diehard, a dedicated teammate who is learning to swim. Now along with so many other interests and sports, we share swimming.
The single thing that makes me feel like my old self is swimming. Coming back to the pool and swimming is a blessing in so many ways. So, slow and pokey, I start to swim again. I am fortunate to have this chance.
MAC Swimmers are the greatest advertisements of all! We love how you share your stories on social media, with friends, etc. We would like to share your stories as well. Each week we will highlight a MAC Swimmer so we can learn more about the team.