I was scouted to join the swim team in first grade when one of the swim coaches said my height would put me at an advantage. Needless to say, he and I were both disappointed in the fact that I stopped growing in middle school, leaving me at an awkward 5’4” height on a good day. Even as both my growth in height and my expertise in swim began diminishing, I continued to swim all throughout elementary and middle school, not because I was extremely interested in or passionate about the sport, but simply because I was told to do it and I didn’t wish to give up on one of the few things I ended up pursuing.
I was never truly a swimmer or really an athlete, but every time I dived into the pool, I wished I was. I wasn’t terrible at the sport, but I also never excelled at it, putting me awkwardly in the middle in terms of the team’s skills. Honestly, I wished I sat at one of the ends of the spectrum; if I was terrible at it, I could simply quit without any second thoughts.
I ended up quitting after my freshman year of high school when the schoolwork began to pile up, and I was forced to make a decision. For a long time, I never went back to the pool. Perhaps part of me was scared to face the fact that not only was I never really good at the sport, but I also never completely put forth my all to improve, since it was only another extracurricular activity to me. I felt bad for my teammates, who seemed to enjoy the sport from the bottom of their hearts; perhaps that’s why they excelled at it.
But is it really my fault that I wasn’t an athlete? After all, I had other talents and interests that spoke to my heart in ways swimming did not. I wasn’t an athlete, but I was a swimmer—I swim not for creating personal bests and competition but for my enjoyment, and that’s okay.
Maybe when summertime comes, I’ll go to the pool. I’ll bask in the sunshine and the nostalgia that the smell of chlorine brings, and I’ll dive headfirst into the water and let the cool, soothing sensation embrace me. I’ll take stroke after stroke to move forward, and I’ll close my eyes as I float on my back, reminiscing about the happy times I spent with my teammates and friends. I’ll swim not for anyone else but myself, as I dive into the future.