Something in the Water
USMS has been known to bring together swimmers, coaches, and teammates, but did you know that USMS also brings together husbands and wives? Some might call it Love Connection, but to us it is just swim practice.
Nell Cunningham, a member of Evanston Masters, met her husband Brian during a Masters practice. Nell joined her local Masters program when a colleague said, "You used to swim, come and join me at the pool." Nell was looking for an organization to be a part of, hoping to get back into swimming, and searching for a social group in which she could meet new people. She found it.
After swimming with her local team for a few years, she and her teammates took a team trip to Cozumel. She swam and vacationed with her USMS friends but found herself spending a lot of time with one teammate in particular: Brian. Now married and the parents of a toddler, Nell and Brian continue to swim with their local USMS team. Brian is a physical therapist and helps Nell with dryland exercises, but it is Nell who is most adamant about attending swim practice. "I'll say, ‘Let's go, we've got to get to the pool.'" Nell jokes about how she met her husband and said, "I never thought, ‘I'm going to swim to find my future husband,'" but she did. One of Nell and Brian's teammates even stood up as a groomsman in their wedding. This couple, which admits to "talking about swimming at the dinner table," isn't the only couple to come out of Evanston Masters; the team, founded in 1982, has had 12 marriages emerge from its waters.
Is it something in the water?
Actually, it has more to do with what goes on out of the water with the Evanston Masters of Illinois Masters. This Masters program takes great pride in its social functions. "We get together to celebrate everything," Nell explains., "We have a social to celebrate our new members in October, a holiday party in December, an anniversary party in February," and the list continues. "We try to get to know one another." Nell jokes, "There hasn't been a wedding on the team in a few years, so all of us of a certain age look to the younger swimmers and say, ‘Let's get on this, folks.'"
USMS can't promise to find every member a match, but it can promise to provide a group of people with similar interests and a common bond of swimming and fitness. USMS might be the Love Connection for Nell and her husband Brian, but to everyone it is a place to call home and a group of people to call family.