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by Maria Elias-Williams

February 6, 2012

“Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” is one of my favorite books from long ago. Someone gave it to me when I was embarking on (one of) my career(s)! If you haven’t read it, you must. Yes, it is by Dr. Seuss. And although I consider myself an avid reader, this is a very deep book.

I think I may need to write a sequel for new or potential members, called “Oh, The Masters Swimmers You’ll Meet!”

I have met fast swimmers and slow swimmers. Young bucks and old farts. People I absolutely adore—and some with whom I probably will not spend a lot of time. Olympians and folks who just needed to lose some weight. Gay and Lesbian, big and small, and swimmers of every color.

I don’t think I have ever met a Masters swimmer who has not bid me “good luck.” Nor have I ever been unable to find someone to count for me in the 1500, long after everyone else has gone home, because I am in the last heat. I know that if my cap rips or my goggles snap, I can always turn to the swimmer behind me and borrow whatever I need.

I have teammates that have donated food, clothing, time—whatever it is that another swimmer has requested for his or her respective “cause.” I have teammates that have packed and moved other members when life changes. I have teammates that have sat with me through medical issues with my child—not because I “needed” anything—but “just in case.”

Where else in your daily life can you find folks like this? Ones that never notice when you gain weight but are the first to say, “Wow, you look great!” when you lose weight? Ones that won’t notice that you can’t quite make your best times but are thrilled you have been showing up to practice for the past two weeks? Ones that will take care of you when you are sick, no matter how minimal the cold or how great the cancer?

I love Masters swimmers. I recently attended an out of town meeting and swam with a local team that insisted on taking me out to dinner because “the city was no place for a single woman on a Friday night.” We had a blast. I can’t wait to head back there!

Enjoy your team. I used to swim alone and do a lot more yardage than I now do. I swim with a team now. And I swim a lot faster than I did before. And I have a lot more fun.