Last weekend marked the end of my first semester of college swimming for the University of Maryland and I must say, it was fantastic. I’ve been swimming since middle school (I’m surprised that I can remember that because I have successfully blocked most of that era out of memory) on a summer swim team in my home town called the ridge seals, then moved to the more competitive and fast paced world of high school swimming, and now finally I have reached what will probably be the final stage in my career, swimming at a collegiate level for UMD. Might I add that being on a club team isn’t as remarkable as being on the division 1 team (which was cut due to lack of money…) but nonetheless, it is exciting and exhilarating all the same. I’ve had the chance to swim alongside some real division 1 athletes and have learned some better techniques as well as the level of dedication, determination and commitment that it really takes to be a division 1 athlete. I think it’s fair to say that I wouldn’t last through one practice and would end up sitting on the bottom of the pool needing rescue from one of the lifeguards on deck.
Now I’m no Michael Phelps, mainly because I was not born with a set of gills like he was, but I like to think I hold my own in the pool. I’m not the fastest you’ve ever seen, but then again, I’m not the slowest either. Swimming is all about personal achievement and setting a goal of being better than you were the last week. As long as you continue to drop time, however minute it may be, it’s considered a win in my book. Like I said earlier, I’ve been swimming for a while now but last year when I was at FCC, I did not have the opportunity to do so because 1). they didn’t have a pool, and 2). if I wanted to, that meant dropping close to a grand or so at the local Health Unlimited. So I was essentially forced to take a year off which I was not too thrilled about. Because I knew that I wanted to swim in some way at the University of Maryland in the fall of the upcoming year, I now had to find a way to stay in shape… which didn’t work out so well at all. So to fix this problem, I would take an hour or so before or after my shift at the pool (I’m a lifeguard/pool op) and get in and swim. This worked as well as it could for the time being until I could get back to scheduled, structured practices and not having to hyper-ventilate after doing 100 meters. But I’ve gotten off topic..
I love being on the club team here at Maryland, it’s everything I’ve been looking for really. Everyone on the team is friendly and they are generally fantastic and fascinating people, the social gatherings are quite exciting, and I have the opportunity to travel to other well-known schools for some friendly? competition. We have gone to Old Dominion University which is only an hour or so out from Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens, Radford University in Virginia, University of Delaware, and most recently Princeton University in New Jersey. And I would have to say that out of these, Princeton was the best. Driving up to the main area of campus which has been there since 1756 is awe inspiring and makes you feel quite dumb because you are surrounded by ivy league students who are all probably geniuses. The architecture is simply amazing and I wish I could have had the time to just explore the campus more but alas, I had to swim my 100 meter backstroke. Being there in that community with all the history, old style Governor manor mansions and buildings that look like they were built right out of a history textbook, I had a very strong feeling of wanting to live here. But I had to return to UMD and get studying for finals which are coming up in a little over a week and a half. If you ever have the opportunity to do any type of club sport, I would highly recommend it. At least for me, it gives me a break from school and gives my brain a chance to relax.