Tuesday, September 28, 2010

To swim and swim again

Last Friday I MC'ed (as an English teacher I still have no idea how else to write MC in the past tense) a swim meet.  It motivated me to get in the pool yesterday.  It felt wonderful, maybe because I limited myself to only 800 meters or maybe because it's been the longest, non-familial relationship of my life.
our pool is 2/3's covered, the middle is open, rain or shine, 5 lanes 25 meters.  This is third grade 50m freestyle.

Swimming and I have had a relationship that's contentious at best. I was in infant classes before I could walk. There are a few great pictures that come to min of me at about 6 months old in moms arms happily flailing about in the pool. At age six they told my mom to put me on the swim team because they couldn't have me repeating the upper level classes again with the older kids.  Kent Area Dolphins and Coach Jim were the start.  I can't even remember those first year and meets.  I know they happened, mom is want to let me forget. There are a few pictures around I'm sure.  By 8 or 9 I was very aware that most people didn't spend as much time in the water as I did, but I loved it.  The pool and that swim team was my community.  I was swimming three nights a week with a meet every month or two. I learned the strokes, techniques, how to follow a meet in a heat sheet and how not to get disqualified.

By high school much of my time and most of my identity was tied to swimming.  I started working at 15 and a half as a lifeguard.  I participated on a year round swim team swimming five or six days a week with them. Three months a year there was also the high school team. This was 5 days a week but much more laid back in comparison.  More for camaraderie than competition. I was know as "Melissa the swimmer" or felt I was. I spent more hours at pools most weeks than any other single location or so I thought.

After 3 years of shoulder pain, I was done in.  I'd been seeing physical therapists and physio specialists for ages.   My shoulders would start to hurt, I'd dial back on the number of hours in the pool, no butterfly, no paddles. I'd go back to icing after practice, filling up on the anti-inflammatories (yes, my kidneys are probably shot) and visit for restrengthening and stretching.  after 4-6 months I'd feel better again so I'd start to increase the hours of swimming again.  By the eighth go around or so, I was tired of the routine.  The doctor was getting ready to send me back to physio and I told him it would just be another repeat.  I was scheduled for an MRI and sure enough, physio wouldn't have fixed the problem.  Over the next year I had surgery on both my shoulders. "General debridement" which entailed cutting out all the little torn bits of muscle and cartilage that had frayed out as well as hitting the joint with micro-waves to tighten everything up and add stability.  My senior year of high school I limped through the high school season because they told me  that I "couldn't do any more damage" so I could carry on as long as I could manage the pain. Over the years I managed to do alright despite the injuries and the fact I had "no natural talent" as proclaimed by my coach when I was about 9.  I made the State meet two years, districts all 4 years in high school and held my own at regional's over many years.  I used to wonder what would have happened if I hadn't gotten hurt, but that's an exercise in futility.

I was happy to see such hopeful faces.  I was amazed how small they all looked in baggy swimwear and huge goggles.  I sat through just over 2 hours of swim meet, outside in the heat and humidity, yet never lost the smile on my face.  And now, I'm counting down the 2 hours and 15 minutes until my classes and meeting are finish, when I can go hop in the pool again.  Twice in one week, I might be 6 years old again.

* the original post was at 12:45.  By 15:20 our meeting was still underway and unfortunately swimming postponed for another day.

1 comment:

  1. You are so much like my sister when it comes to swimming. Like you, she loves it.

    As for MCed, can you say I was the MC? I don't know...just a thought ;)