Why I’m Not an Olympic Swimmer

A Personal Essay

I’ve been trying to work swimming into my workout schedule, but between the crazy lap swim hours and kids puking birthday cake in the pool the one time I did go (EWW!!!), it hasn’t really happened.  With the Olympic Games right around the corner and the U.S. trials recently wrapped up, I’ve been missing swim team.

I was on swim team throughout middle school.  I hated the early morning practices, but I loved spending all day every day at the pool and I was FIT (much more than I am today).


Summer 2001

I’m positive, however, that I was the slowest girl on the team.  Before an important meet, I remember my coach telling me to pretend I was being chased by a shark.


It didn’t work quite the way he would have liked.  Instead of buckling down and swimming faster, I’d laugh.  I couldn’t help it. Swimming might be a physically demanding sport, but the endless laps left my brain free to wander.  Instead of feeling the adrenalin rushing through my veins and powering me down the lane, I was met with the image of a great white shark stuck within the tiny confines of the Sundowners swimming pool, and I found that image hilarious.

As I swam, I’d wonder whether sharks were still powerful in outside of salt water or if chlorine was their kryptonite.  I’d wonder if the chemicals would turn their skin colors, quite honestly wishing to see a rainbow bright shark.

I’d imagine the reactions my teammates would have. Some would freak out, run away screaming and crying.  At least one boy would swear they could take it on, taunting it with ridiculous sounds and insults and slapping it in the face with the kick boards.

I’d picture the shark tangled in the plastic ropes dividing the lanes, wriggling and roaring as it mummified itself even more.

I lost that race.  Surprised?

Then, I figured if I’m not fleeing from the technicolored sharks, I should think about what I really would be running from.  For my twelve year old self, that was easy.


Lord Voldemort aka He Who Must Not Be Named

Lord Voldemort
He Who Must Not Be Named

Yep.  I was just a kid in Southern Illinois being chased across a small town swimming pool by the Dark Lord himself.  For some, this might actually have worked.  I guess it did for a while (and by while I mean half a lap).

My streamlining take-off was the best it’d ever been, but then I hit the middle of the pool and I started concocting reasons why Voldemort would have abandoned his hunt for Harry Potter to come after me.  I’d compose elaborate battle scenes in my head in which I would brush with death but reign victorious, defeating You-Know-Who with my own bare hands.  This would of course lead to me presenting Harry Potter with Voldemort’s want as proof and as token of my love and respect and being invited to join Ron and Hermione in the hallowed walls of Hogwarts.  I have neither the time nor the space on my blog to tell you the stories that would come to life in my head from there.

I would contemplate things like how spells would work under water (this was before Ms. Rowling wrote about silent charms).  If you were to shout “alohomora” under water without Gillyweed gills, would sentiment still work since the words would sound more like “awa blub blub”.  Lord only knows what that spell does!

Would Voldemort be able to swim?  Long before book 7, in which we find he can fly, I’d picture him splashing in the water, trying to stay afloat.  His doggie paddle would look more like a deranged macarana as his mouth filled with water and the slits of his eyes glowed red.  Would he give up and float in the fetal position, waiting for Harry to finish him off?  Or would he turn into a shark (which then brought me back to “what if a shark was in the pool?”).


At least the opportunities of writing are always available.  I’d hate to have to go through four year of training and trial eliminations to put to paper whatever pops in my head.

On that note, I’ll be participating in my own Olympic Games.  While I’m not watch Team America own the games, I’ll be racing to find jobs and still find time to write.

I’ll also be secretly hoping that Michael Phelps will win and birth another alien.

Does no one else remember his team mate popping up as though coming out of his stomach like an alien?

Does no one else remember his team mate popping up as though coming out of his stomach like an alien?