Swim at your own risk

Aaron Rosenthal

I play on multiple sports teams, so I had always considered myself to be pretty athletic. And then Maya Wilson, a fellow Beacon member, encouraged me to join the swim team.

The idea initially excited me. Swimming sounded like a fun new way to train during the offseason. I even thought that I could bring home a couple of medals. After all, I had won a swimming award at my sleepaway camp when I was 10. I could not have been more wrong.
Maya picked me up around 6:20 a.m. for my first practice. When we arrived at the pool, I quickly changed into my bathing suit and grabbed my goggles. I approached the team’s coach, English teacher Joseph Welch, and introduced myself. After a brief conversation, I found out that I couldn’t join the team because the official roster deadline had passed, and that I couldn’t swim with them because I hadn’t turned in any forms. I felt defeated, but there was no chance I was going home. I had gotten up at six to swim, so I was getting in the pool.

Maya offered to take me through a typical routine of hers in a separate lane. We started with 600 meters of freestyle. About halfway through this exercise, my goggles broke, which was actually a blessing in disguise. After these first 300-or-so meters, I had already exhausted myself. Clumps of mucus were spewing out of my mouth every time I took a breath. The time I spent trying to fix my goggles provided me with a much-needed break. My goggles-saving efforts ultimately failed, but because I was unable to swim freestyle in a straight line without them, I got to switch to breaststroke, which was far less strenuous.

Even though the swimming got less tiring, my experience continued to worsen. Not because of my dwindling pride or stinging eyes, but because of some middle-aged bastard who hopped into the lane with me and Maya. He continually lapped me and gave me dirty looks as I gasped for air on the side of the pool. Keep in mind that we were in the medium-paced lane. The man had poor swimmer’s etiquette, and I don’t use that insult lightly.

The rest of the exercises we did morphed into a big blur. I can only recall repeatedly hitting my head against lane markers doing backstroke, and making a fool of myself while attempting to swim butterfly. As I trudged into the hot tub, I had no remaining energy or pride. Maya alerted me that the actual swim team still had 30 minutes of practice left.

I am not writing this to deter anyone from joining the swim team, but rather to ensure that other Wilson students take the sport seriously. I went into it thinking that because the team culture is laid back and I’m solidly in-shape, I would be able to dominate. In reality, I could hardly finish two-thirds of a modified practice. Wilson’s swimmers do not get the respect they deserve, and if you don’t believe me, feel free to hop in the pool with them.