Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Woulda, coulda, shoulda

I just witnessed Michael Phelps break yet another world record on his way to some obscene number of gold medals. He flew through the pool to win gold (again) in the 200 meter Butterfly.  Have you ever swam the butterfly?  It looks so cool.  Some people make it look effortless.  Trust me, as someone who knows, it ain't so easy kids!

When one of my friends decided she wanted to join the swim team, she talked me into going with her.  No problem, I knew how to swim.  Kinda sorta.  I don't recall the specifics but I think we had to swim one lap of each of the four competitive strokes to make the team.  I only had one question.  What are "competitive" strokes?  I knew how to swim one way.  On my stomach.  

I got some quick coaching from my mom and my friend's mom and I headed for the pool. "Swing your arms in circles, kick your feet like a dolphin", they told me. Huh?  Butterflies are pretty flittery things.  That didn't seem light and fluttery, but they were adults so I trusted them and headed off to the pool trusting that they had a clue.

I have no idea what it looked like from the deck, but I'm sure it didn't look anything like it did in my mind.  If I remember right, I think the coach was laughing when I finished.  What's so funny?  I was awesome!  Ok, it had to be the most pathetic attempt at swimming the butterfly that anyone had ever seen. Maybe the coach felt sorry for me or maybe she saw some glimmer of the fluttering creature I was trying to so desperately imitate without completely drowning myself.  I made the team!  

I guess it was fate.  I actually was a decent butterflier.  It was my favorite race to swim and I won my fair share of medals throughout the years.  Once I hit high school, swimming wasn't as much fun as it was before.  I'm not sure why.  Since I went to an all-girls school, swim team practice was full of dripping wet cute boys in Speedos (not creepy when you are used to it).  I dated my fair share of the swim team, it should have been enough to keep me interested.  But I had much bigger and better things to do - you know - like driving around in my friend's Mustang yelling at boys on the street corners (sorry, Mom!).  After all, it is kind of hard to flirt with a boy when your face in constantly under water!

Despite my lack of devotion in high school, I actually qualified for some scholarship money in college.  These people must have spent too much time sniffing the chlorine - I wasn't that good (or so I thought).  In the end, I picked a college that didn't have a swim team or a pool for that matter.  I was tired of living my life in the pool.  Tired of having straw-like hair that occasionally turned green on it's own (every once in a while the unnatural shades were on purpose).  College was for partying, not for swimming (sorry again, Mom!)

So as I sit here on my couch, watching the Men's swim team completely shatter another World record in the 800 meter freestyle relay at the Olympics, I have to wonder what could have been...


NV said...

But they didn't invite Mark Spitz. WTF?

Yes, I remember your travails as a lifeguard though that always seemed like a fun job to me. (Especially when you compare it to hawking hot dogs, pretzels, and cookies.) :-)

MonkeyGirl said...

NV - Being a lifeguard isn't all Baywatch-y but I got to work on my freckle tan all summer!