Thursday, June 6, 2013

Swimming FAQs

Now don't let the blog post title fool you, no one has asked me any questions about swimming but it is easier for me to break it up that way! (And if you do really have any questions, about anything, please feel free to ask or email me!)

So on to the "FAQs" of my swimming career, some of this stuff I have talked about on here before but it was earlier on in my blog's life. 

When did you start swimming competitively?

 My first swimming picture

My swimming career started when I was 8 years old.  My brother, he was 7, and I joined the Ellsworth YMCA Dolphins.  I remember going to Y States that year, it was actually on my birthday, and some guy came over to talk to our coach.  I didn't know it at the time, but that guy would eventually become our coach.

 The best coach I ever had

How many teams did you swim on?

We started out swimming on the Ellsworth swim team and then, by fate really, we ended up switching to the MDI Sharks.  That guy I had mentioned, was the coach for the team and just that night or morning their pool roof had collapsed.  This meant that the team had to use the Ellsworth YMCA pool and a racquet club's pool while a new YMCA was built.

My brother and I, and a handful of other swimmers, left the Ellsworth team and joined the MDI team. Best. Decision. Ever.

 First J.O. (Junior Olympics) medal

Other than my YMCA teams, I also swam on my high school team, my college's team (for two years) and a Master's swim team in Rochester (for less than a year).

 Our typical relay team in high school

What events did you compete in?

My preferred events were the 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 100 backstroke and 200 backstroke. However, I did compete in every event (except for maybe the 200 breaststroke, although I probably did it once) because I made it a goal to do so. I was good at the freestyle, backstroke and butterfly, but the breaststroke was definitely my weak spot. 

 Warming up in the backstroke

I also did an event, that isn't really an event.  I swam the 500 yard freestyle (and when it says freestyle you can technically swim it any way you want as long as you do so the entire event), but I swam it using backstroke instead.  The person counting my lengths for me had to hold the counter up high so I could see it after every flip turn.

You swam in college, did you enjoy it?

Short answer: no.

I will always love swimming, it was my first true love and passion in life.  Swimming at the collegiate level, at a Division 3 school at least (where athletics is not the central focus), is challenging.  Balancing academics, a social life and competing was difficult, but that's not really why I didn't enjoy it.

 800 freestyle relay, I'm second

The coach was not what I was used to, at all. I never felt like the team was a "family" as my YMCA and high school teams had been.  I stuck it out for two years, but then after my class schedule started to conflict with practices I knew I wouldn't swim a third year.  Mike and I both only swam on the team for two years (that is how we met, during my second year on the team and his first), he had to stop because of co-ops conflicting with the practices.

What made you join a Master's swim team?

Well, it was the same reason why we started the Couch-to-5K program: we needed to get in shape.  I did enjoy being a part of that team, though we were the youngest members, but the times of the practices and the membership fees prevented us from sticking with it for a long time.

 Swimming at a Master's swim meet

What was the highlight of your swimming career?

So many, but my junior year was really great for me. I basically went undefeated the entire year, until the end of the year when Championship meets rolled around.  I swam a lot of my best times that year, I can still remember what it felt like to swim the 100 freestyle in 56:06, which may not be fast to some but to me it was exhilarating.

 Doing what I did best, chewing on my bungee strap

Also coming in first at my last high school State Championships in the 100 yard backstroke was pretty sweet!

 Cheering on the boys at their State meet

Where did swimming take you?

All over! My Y team would go to Florida every year in April (you had to practice 8 times a week from a certain date until the trip to go) and two years we went to the Virgin Islands (St. Croix). On those trips we would sometimes stop in New York City or Washington D.C.

 After an open water swim in Florida, I'm on the ground in the front

I traveled to other states and Canada for swim meets, such as the Eastern Zone Championships, the YMCA long course National Championships and a Master's swim meet in Middlebury, Vermont. 

 In Florida for Nationals

How is swimming different for you now?

I'm slower.

In all seriousness, I miss the competitive swimming world.  However, as a triathlete I get to combine my old passion: swimming, with my new passions: biking and running.  Swimming in a triathlon is very different than competitive swimming, you don't have to worry about sighting during a race like you do during a triathlon (unless your goggles fall off after the start).  I also have to conserve my energy, in a somewhat different way than during a race, because I have to have enough gas left in the tank for the bike and run legs.

I'm thankful for my swimming career, not only because the amount of time I spent swimming benefits me in triathlons (seriously I probably swam over 500 MILES a year or more), but also because it helped me grow as a person.

I'd go back to re-live this again

Did you have a former athletic identity?


  1. If I didn't run in high school, I would have been a swimmer...I love it :) Loved hearing your swimming background

  2. What an incredible story! Swimming is one of those exercises that when I do it, it kicks my butt! I can't imagine swimming over 500 miles in a lifetime let alone a year, that is seriously awesome!!! Good luck with triathlons, one day I think I may try one!

  3. Great post! Loved seeing all the old pics...brought back lots of great memories!!

  4. If I didn't play tennis, I would have been a swimmer and luckily was able to train with the team during the winter to stay in shape. In my former life I played tennis-from 4 to 18. I actually just signed up for some tennis lessons to get me back into match-play shape for the fall. I'm with you- I miss the competition!

  5. I loved reading this. What an awesome walk through your swimming career. I've swum all my life but only swam on a team in high school and absolutely loved it. I wasn't fast by any means but I loved practices and loved my team. I still try to swim now but it's hard sometimes to balance it with my other loves sometimes and have thought about joining masters just to be able to practice consistently. Thanks for sharing this!

  6. You did the 500 freestyle as backstroke?! Oh my if that race isn't painful enough. I for some reason thought you had said you were a backstroker...I did distance freestyle. Interesting to see someone coming back to the sport gives me hope...maybe. LOL

  7. Not so much athletics - I just didn't participate. But I was a HUGE band/music nerd... it's a shame I gave it up in highschool

  8. Great post, Jamie! I loved hearing more about your swimming background. I used to swim back in the day (as in I took lessons during the summer), but I eventually chose field-hockey in middle school (over both swimming and tennis). Isn't it crazy how much athletics affect things? And like you, I played DIII basketball for two years before "retiring." ;) They basically wouldn't let me study abroad, and I also had an opportunity to become the editor-in-chief of my college's newspaper. I can't imagine my life without being active!

  9. I may fill this out now :) Love reading about other people's swimming stories! Ahhh bungee straps! haha And I feel ya with the breaststroke. AWFUL.

  10. Way to take us through your past experiences in a fun way! As for me, I was in track in high school as a disc and shot putter. I broke records, have my name on a wall in the high school, etc, etc. I also ran the 400. Slowly. I'm still working on that, you know, 11 years later... Haha!

  11. I'm so jealous. I've been wanting to get into tris for a long time, but I am SUCH a weak swimmer. I really wish I had that background in it because I find it so intimidating!

  12. I loved this post! The 500 backstroke was cracking me up! Gurlll, you were speedy with that 100 free! I used to chew on my goggle straps too, but I never had the bungie kind :)