Swimmer of the Week:
My love for water started when I was very young. We had a pool in the backyard and I would stay in it all day. I was the first in the water come springtime and the last out come fall. As I’ve gotten older I am less a fan of the cold so while I have been known to jump in off the boat in November that’s mostly to show up my friends that boasted of their October plunges than to swim. Now I sail, paddleboard, fish, boat, float, scuba dive and skin-dive but mostly I just like to swim. Not a day goes by without me on or under the surface of a lake doing one or more of these activities.
I swam in high school for a few months but it was too early to get up and too cold. When Milford opened their pool I would swim at least weekly, in the winter, laps of freestyle (until I’d get bored). One day my swim time happened to overlap with the MAC. Swimming in the far left “open” lane I felt something hit my head. I looked back to see a crazy lady throwing things and yelling to me. Apparently she didn’t like my awesome windmill technique, fearing it would be contagious. Though I did not understand then, that which would be obvious to anyone that knew her, I had met Suzanne and at least in her mind I was now a member of the team. After some more practices of shouting and gesticulations from her I modified my stroke and felt I was happily on my way to mediocrity. I have nothing against teams but I have a certain casual laziness I haven’t quite fully committed to but does creep in around the edges if I let it and that doesn’t mesh well with organized and timely group events where the bar for expectations is set anywhere above low. The last thing I wanted was to be on a swim team, but I was hooked.
Over the next several years, and with great effort on her part, poor Suzanne managed to bring my freestyle from beginner to rudimentary. Then, one fateful “fly stroke rebuild day” Dianne told us to swim a 50 on our backs by just undulating. After several attempts I insisted it was impossible. Dianne helpfully pointed to the others (girls) that were, despite its impossibility, doing it with ease. On her own time Dianne gave me post-practice lessons in the diving well and finally hit on the right phrase, not taught in charm school, to penetrate my thick head and make me understand how to do it. When I had difficulty breathing while swimming fly Dianne explained that older people sometimes don’t have the lower body strength for the stroke so it helps to learn to breathe on your side. That was genius to say on her part because naturally I refused. It is true, I am overly fond of breathing in general and feel it is a highly underrated activity by the coaches. It is also true that fly is a stroke designed by the devil where you breathe from a little pocket of air you’ve hopefully created when doing the stroke correctly. But I saw this as a real challenge and my solution was to just not breathe. Who’s the genius now? Of course I was limited to swimming only 50’s as I could steal a gulp of air at the wall and it all kind of worked if I didn’t try to do too many in a row. And so went my indoctrination to butterfly, my favorite stroke and the stroke, which I think we can all admit, is the greatest of the four strokes and the one we need more of in practice.
When Dianne writes on the board “best stroke” she says, “do fly”. When she writes “worst stroke” she says, “do fly”. Welcome to the swim team, the only sport where a thing can be your worst and your best simultaneously. I love it and can’t imagine swimming on my own ever again!
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.