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by Author Unknown

December 31, 2008

So many reasons!

Last week many of you received the U.S. Masters Swimming monthly e-newsletter, Member News from Behind the Blocks. Typically this newsletter provides you with swimming news, information and other resources. April's issue continued the tradition and offered you a variety of articles, but this month we asked you for something in return. A seemingly simple question was asked discretely on the left side of the e-newsletter. This question, plainly stated in 10-point font and a basic black text, was not intended to stump its readers; however, this question proved to not only be more poignant than expected, but it generated nearly 100 responses and became one of our most successful market research efforts.

Why do you swim?

Simple. Plain. Easy. Right?

Most of us know why we swim, but when asked to communicate these reasons, many of us struggle. To some, the question begged an answer larger than "to stay fit" or "because I do triathlons." Why do you swim? Some responses were short, sweet and to the point, others were nothing less than labors of love. Whether your response was four words or 400, your motivation will continue to affect the way that we think and act. We read every response and moved by the thoughtfulness of some, U.S. Masters Swimming wants to share some of its favorite responses.

"I swim because I feel more connected to who I am and awake for the day."
Jenny Holzaepfel

"I swim because in this technological age, the pool is one spot where the phone doesn't ring, email ding, nor children SING my name at the top of their lungs!! It is one of the last bastions of quiet in a crazy, hectic world ... (the longer the distance, the better!)."
Trish Brown

"Hi, my name is Christine and I am a swimaholic. I tell myself it is a good addiction. However, my hair is wrecked, my skin is dry, I get too much sun, I'm tired by 4:00 in the afternoon, and I itch. I smell like chlorine when I sweat and my shoulders hurt if I lay on my side at night. I look forward to my workout before I get there and I think about how great it was when I am done. It is my time. I swim because I can and I will keep swimming until I can't. I do it because I love it."


"I swim because it's the ‘sanity' in my stressful life. When I am in the water I am in the present moment. Swimming is the thing I love doing the best in my life. I am safe and at peace in the water.

"I swim because it challenges my mind, body and spirit, at age 49. I'm amazingly at my second athletic prime, first being around 30, but at 49!

"I also swim because it is something I can do to actively help nonprofits raise money for their cause, such as the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition.

"I swim as long as I am able to. Hopefully, well into my elderly years! Thank you."

Sally Wiesman


"WHY I SWIM: To stay alive for my kids. I got married very late, have three young children and would love to see them all graduate at least from high school. My youngest is Sedona (14 months) and I will be 60 on May 5. Yipes!"
Craig Bitler

"You ask why I swim? It began when a friend invited me. I went because I have always loved the water. It continued because it calms me and helps me to sleep at night. It's my meditation time just for me and I love it!! I love the opportunity to improve with the help of coaches. One serendipity is that I have lost three sizes due to the swimming."
D. Edwards

"When you dive into the pool and the water washes over you it washes away everything else that is going on in your life. That first rush invigorates your body, mind and soul. The water offers you the quiet solitude that keeps you sane. Masters is the place where you make friends with people you would otherwise have never met. You become a network of support for each other. You will form bonds that go way beyond the pool. Your coach will push you to go farther and faster than you ever thought you could, simply because he believes in you."

Why do I swim? I swim because I love the water. I was a diver and loved the adrenaline rush associated with falling, flipping and twisting with a grand finale of slicing through the cool water. It's funny, when you are standing on top of a platform, no matter how many times the announcer says, "Please remain quiet for the competitors," the pool and its surrounding area is composed of a million little sounds and noises, but the minute you enter the water there is an immediate quiet that has the power to separate you from the rest of the world. When I finished my diving career, I never thought I'd experience that feeling again. I was terrified that I'd lose the memory. Well, I did experience the power of the water again and it happened in my first Masters meet. I stood on the block and I could hear everything from the ticking of the clock to the person on the pool deck opening a granola bar wrapper. There was noise all around me, but as soon as the beep went off, I dove in and it was quiet, still. I do like staying in shape, but my love of swimming is the initial plunge into the water. I continue to swim because I long for that feeling of the loud chaos of life mixed with nerves quickly quieted by the cool calmness of the water. Sometimes I find it at practice, other times it takes a race. Swimming, to me, is like living in a memory. Whether it is my memories from diving or being 7 years old at the old country club, I love to dive into the water and "be" wherever and whenever I choose. Swimming takes me out of noisy reality and places me in my most favorite places and times.

So, this seemingly straightforward question is no longer as simple as originally intended. It has forced us all to think, feel and remember why we continue to dive into the cold water, often at times of the day when the earliest of birds are still asleep in their nests, and endure the long workouts and damaged hair. Your responses have reminded us that there is not one single reason that we all swim. We each have our own motivation, reasons and purpose for doing what we do.

Why do you swim?