When I go to a triathlon, I always wish the swim was just a little bit longer. Really, it's the only portion of the race that I can get away with not training. Most triathletes dread the swim and even more are afraid to try a triathlon because of the swim. For me, it's the part I look forward to the most.
I started swimming when I was 12. I had danced for a long time, quit that and then tried a year of soccer. That was a total bust and my mom told me I needed to pick a new sport because I wasn't allowed to just sit around and do nothing. At the time, my best friend who lived across the street was doing swim team. Naturally I wanted to join her. My mom didn't want me to join the team just because my friend was on it. I assured her that it was something that I really wanted to do and I would do it even if my friend wasn't on the team (total load of b.s. right there). So my mom brought me to the first practice and handed me over to the coaches.
Let's just say that first swimming experience wasn't pretty. The coach told me to warm up with some sort of drill and I had no idea what he was talking about. Never mind that I really didn't know how to swim correctly. I ended up on the edge of the pool crying and asking to go home. My mom came over and told me that she had just paid the registration fee and I best get back in the water and get moving. At the end of practice we got to try diving off the blocks. I didn't know how to dive and I asked if I could just try it off the side of the pool. The coach wouldn't let me so sure enough, I got up on the blocks and I belly flopped. Fabulous. After all that drama, I'm not even sure why I showed up at the next practice, but I did.
Eventually my form improved and I was actually doing pretty good. I was able to swim varsity all four years of high school (ok, there were no tryouts, but I definitely wasn't the worst kid on the team). My freshman year was probably my best. I actually scored some points for my team and my coach had some faith in me. My sophomore year on was with a different coach and it was all downhill. Other things like work and school got in the way. However, I never really stopped swimming. I took some time off after high school because I was burnt out, but I was back in the water lap swimming by the fall.
I feel lucky that I participated in a sport that will stay with my for the rest of my life. Unlike football, I can go swim laps any time I want. Just yesterday, I returned to the pool where it all started for the first time this summer (ok, I've really been slacking in the swimming department). There were some familiar faces from my old team who now guard at the pool. For me, swimming is much like riding a bike: it's something I don't think I could ever forget how to do. And in the end, I'm really glad my mom told me to get my butt back in the pool because it's one of the best things she ever did.