Monday, July 21, 2008

My World: and you're welcome to it!

The first time I ever went to a swim meet was on my honeymoon. In Fort Lauderdale. As part of the annual Swim Coaches’ Forum, which has been held since like 1857 at the International Swimming Hall of Fame pool complex. And, oh yeah, I was staying in a hotel with about 30 college students and their coach, my new husband.

As I look back now on my decision to elope on Christmas Eve and spend the first couple weeks of married life with a bunch of chlorine-impaired, hormonally-charged, voraciously-hungry social degenerates whose idea of welcoming the New Year was to toss the coach’s new wife into an unheated outdoor hotel pool at midnight, I’m pretty sure there’s only one explanation for my decision – the lifetime supply of sex.

With Mr. Coach, for heaven’s sake, not the degenerates. Jeez.

Actually, anyone who knows me didn’t find my decision all that surprising because I’m a little on the pragmatic and frugal side (which is not a bad way to be as a coach’s spouse). Elopement was an appealing option because I don’t like ceremonies and I especially don’t like being the center of attention in ceremonies which have become little more than commercially-sanctioned excuses to soak lovesick saps for obscene amounts of money which could be better spent on things like food and shelter. (Your mileage may vary.)

And a trip to Florida in the middle of winter also was appealing. Though it would not technically fulfill all the standards for a honeymoon (24/7 privacy, to name one), it satisfied enough of them and I also liked the idea of immersing myself completely in this new world of swimming. It was the moral equivalent of jumping into the water without sticking your toe in first.

Amazingly, I have absolutely no regrets about beginning married life this way. Though I wasn’t a swimmer myself then, I had been a runner all my life, so the athletic life as lived on an academic calendar was not unknown to me. In fact, the idea of returning to a lifestyle built around the cyclical flow of training, tapering, racing and resting was comforting. And even though I was, at that point, seven years removed from my own days of college running, my instincts still told me that a year begins in September.

I also thought, coming from an individual-type sport, that the similarities between the track and swimming cultures would be comfortingly familiar – though I did have some vague recollection that the swimmers I had known at my college were, how shall one put it, a little less tightly wound than my track teammates.

I had no idea how different the two cultures were, but getting thrown into a pool (an unheated outdoor pool) at midnight on New Year’s Eve, seven days into married life, was probably a good glimpse into just how different those two cultures really are.

I now suspect it’s the pounding from running, the gravity effect if you will, that makes runners both more grounded and more uptight. For example, if a runner gets drunk, it’s because he or she decided that the 1.14 beers it would take to get drunk will fit into his or her training schedule at precisely 9:36 p.m. on a Saturday night, eight weeks out from the NCAA championships. If a swimmer gets drunk, it’s because it’s Thursday.

Now granted, I have since learned that many swimmers can be just as anal as runners and some of them don’t even drink beer, but most of them still take chances with their personal safety, no matter where on the ranking charts their times appear, and they do so in a manner which says, "It’s not a death wish. It’s a complete absence of any sense of mortality."

Which, let’s face it, would have to be the case if you toss your coach’s new wife into an unheated outdoor pool on New Year’s Eve.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.