Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Making of a Sea Hawk

When my husband and I first moved in together, I was throwing out some letters and pictures. I threw out two little pictures in gold frames of me in my Sea Hawk's swim team suit when I was six. My husband got really upset and dug the pictures out of the trash. He said it was one of his favorite pictures of me when I was young. Ten years ago, I didn't think I'd ever swim again so they didn't mean anything to me. When I saw that picture this morning, sitting in the desk drawer, I was glad my husband made me save it. Because it means something to me today as a triathlete.

Today, I'm thankful to my parents for signing me up for swim lessons when I was four. It means I am thankful for my swim team coach for teaching me how to do free style when I was five. It was really the only sport my sister and I did during the cold, snowy, winters in Germany. I don't remember too much about learning to swim. I do remember the first race I did when I was six, 25 meter free-style. Coach told me I could win if I didn't stop and hold on to the lane line. I swam my little heart out, without stopping and got my first blue ribbon. I smiled real big but was missing my two front teeth.

When we moved to Spain when I was nine, there was no swim team. I'd ride "Sweet Thunder", my pink dirt bike to the pool every summer day. I'd entertain myself by throwing coins in the bottom of the pool and pretending I found secret treasures. For lunch, I'd spend my coins on a Snicker's Bar and Coke. The best summer day at that pool was when I found a $20.00 bill floating at the bottom. I thought I was a millionaire! I was so proud when I brought it home. My mom made me take it back and give it to the lifeguards to put in the lost and found. Nobody claimed the $20.00 after three days so I got to keep it. I bought trivial Pursuit with that money because I wanted my sister to play games with me. I never won that game, it was way over my head. My sister enjoyed playing it with my oldest sister though.

We came home to the US when I was eleven. My parents signed me up for the summer swim team in Virginia. I learned to do flip-turns and butterfly. The kids were really good in Fairfax, most of them were on winter swim leagues. I still would place in my two main events, 50-meter fly and free. In relay's I was always the fly girl. Maybe I was the only kid that didn't look like they were drowning while doing butterfly. Once I turned 14, swimming wasn't interesting or cool anymore. I never swam on a team again.

I was thinking a lot about it while I was doing my 1800 swim last night. I started doing flip-turns again this week. It seems more tiring to do flip turns, maybe from holding your breath. Next year at MAP, the first triathlon I did this year, I want to swim the 500 doing flip-turns. It's been over 15 years since I've raced that way, scary!

Most of all, I am thankful for my parents for making me learn how to swim when I was so young. I truly feel for the triathletes that are just learning how to swim as adults. I'm sure it's very scary to look at a lake and not feel comfortable with your swim skills. Swimming isn't like running or biking. If you don't run or bike well, you won't choke to death. I think swimming is probably the most difficult leg to master. I'm thankful it's been my strongest discipline but I started out as a toofless, baby Sea Hawk many years ago.


At 9:49 AM, Blogger nancytoby said...

No wonder you're so GOOD! You're not a novice, you're a seasoned competitor!!!!

At 11:41 AM, Blogger Sherri said...

aw, cute photo! i'm glad that you're giving gratitude to your parents for getting you started early. cause, um, learning to swim as an adult has proved to be a lot more difficult for me that i'd imagined. i have vowed that, if i ever become a parent, his/her little butt will be in a pool asap!

At 12:49 PM, Blogger tarheeltri said...

Great post. I owe a lot to my parents for getting me lessons too. And so true about people just learning to swim... as if completing a triathlon isn't hard enough, they have to overcome learning to swim and/or fear of the water, too. Truly some amazing people out there!

At 1:06 PM, Blogger DaisyDuc said...

What a darling picture and husband for making sure it was not thrown away!

Yeah, figuring out swimming as an adult is not much fun!

At 1:14 PM, Blogger Miss Jenny said...

What a great photo. I'm so glad your husband rescued it.

Had I realized you were such a pro swimmer, I totally would have made you come to the lake and help my sorry ass. You better watch out, though, cuz if I don't drown on Saturday, I might still do just that!

At 2:49 PM, Blogger Stillwater Heron said...

What a cutie!
Good thing your husband retreived that picture from the trash can.
It's priceless!

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Jill said...

Very cute pic!! And I totally relate to learning to swim early. I can't remember not being able to swim. I was always being sent to swim lessons and when I lived over seas there was always a pool available to swim in - and sometimes an ocean! It blows me away when I talk to many of my friends and they do not know how to swim. I thought everyone had to take swim lessons when they were kids!!

At 5:39 PM, Blogger Swordfish said...

Looks like a future Ironman chicka to me : )

By the way ,Thanks for the kind words you left on my blog- and FWI....I kinda pee like that too.

Do you ever make goat cheese ? And if you it any good ?

You can PM me on if you're a member. Its free anyways.I post under the name Swordfish.

Be Good !


At 8:02 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Here here! If there is one thing that I wouldn't to have to learn how to do, it's swim. I see so many triathletes struggle with that.

Cute picture from the past, too! I love seeing people's kids photos! It's so neat to see the adult face in that kids body. :)

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