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by Linda Shoenberger

December 1, 2008


Recently one of my swimming teammates called me at home on a Thursday night while I was relaxing in front of the TV after coaching a workout in the morning, working all day and swimming 3,500 yards after work.  He asked if I would like to swim on a relay on Saturday in a town 146 miles from my home in Reno.  Of course, my answer was, “Yes!” 


Who of us can resist the thrill of the race, the draw of a few hours spent with teammates, the rush of being part of a team?  Not I. 


With the world threatening to fall apart at the seams, business pressures stressing us out and retirement funds shrinking daily, what better place is there to turn than to the pool or open water and swim friends?


All problems seem to fade away on the pool deck.  Friends greet each other.  The loudspeaker booms out instructions.  The head timer pleads for timers.  Swimmers discuss past races, new suits, the next race on the horizon, health and family. 


Meanwhile volunteers set up the snack bar while someone fires up the barbeque.  Lifeguards install lane lines and keep an eye on the action in and around the water.


Swimmers descend on the facility carrying folding chairs, blankets, hats, swim bags and water bottles, searching for the perfect spot to set up camp.  Sometimes we’re wearing winter coats and wool caps.  Other times we have on flip flops and shorts.  Either way, we’re there to practice our fun, celebrate our athleticism, cheer each other on and enjoy life in the present moment.


Swimming gives us so much more than we ask of it.  It gives us a place to grow and expand into the personalities we discover once we enter the swimming community.  It feeds our determination and our hearts, win or lose, scratch or swim.  It doesn’t matter what we do but that we are present to witness our own feelings.


Taking steps towards a fulfilling life is encouraged by our participation in a sport that is bigger than we are.  It is a sport that beckons us to live, experience the adventure and participate in our own lives.  The eau de chlorine is the scent that invites us into the world of swimming.  The rest is up to us.