Why I Stay in the Chlorine

I have a confession. Right now, I am dead in the middle of my final year of swimming, my tenth season as a competitive swimmer… and I hate it. I have hated it for almost as long as I have done it.

Along with a confused look, most people I share this with ask one main question: why do you still swim?

Swimming is so much pain at times that I can barely describe it. Swimmers are called some of the hardest workers in sports, and I can surely provide evidence to support this theory. We have five morning practices (including on Saturdays), four afternoon practices, and one meet in a typical week. We wake up at 4:45AM to go get in the water before school, and we’ll wake up at 5:45AM on the other days to go lift, leaving our emotions all over the place due to lack of sleep. And even with all of this put aside, the motion of swimming is so repetitive that most of us could do it in our sleep, taking away any element of freshness the sport has left to offer.

However, I have one main reason to keep going despite the pain, one main reason why I have stayed. Or, actually, 33. Along with the added bonus of staying in shape, I have 33 of the best people in the area donning the same team suit as I do every Tuesday. Most girls are in the same position I am, hating life after years and years in the same pool. In fact, only three of our ten senior swim/divers have decided to continue their careers in college. But we are all in the pool together, as Rangers just trying to make it through the season. We have become a family through the Carnival Weeks, cottage weekends, pop can drives, and too many meals to count. Our coach is like a dad, our assistants like aunts, and our teammates like sisters. On any given day at our practices you may find a girl crying in the pool or the locker room. Right behind them, though, you will find another girl or coach waiting to hug them and comfort them and get them through whatever it is about that day that they can’t take.

Along with these girls, I proudly call myself a swimmer. It has defined me, and in turn, they have defined me along with it. So to answer the above question: my girls make me keep swimming. They have kept me swimming for almost a decade. They are my second family; and, as they have and will until my last race, they make me stay in the chlorine.