Monday, July 30, 2012

I Coulda Been a Contender

Olympic time is happy time.  It's also a time of serious reflection.  For example, after a discussion with my family on Saturday night, I thought about which events are my favorite to watch during the Summer Olympics.  Here they are, in order:
  1. Women's gymnastics
  2. Swimming
  3. Track
Except.  During the last few Summer Olympic games, I've found myself watching more swimming than anything.  Part of that's due to the way gymnastics has changed over the years, and part of it's due to an increase in self-awareness.

Here's the thing:  I know I should've been a swimmer.  I can feel it in my bones.  Before I explain to you how I know I'm right, I will give you three mini-posts about how I fell in love with water.
  1. Chicago, 2004
    The Chicago River had me at hello.  From the moment my friend Margret and I stepped onto the ferryboat for an architectural tour of the city, I was hooked.  I had been to THE American city of New York half a dozen times, but it paled in comparison to the beauty of this magical Midwestern city so elegantly built around the river.
  2. New York City, 2005
    My sister moved to New York City in 2003, and I wanted to follow her there.  As soon as I graduated, I applied to as many editing jobs as I could, and out of about 50 applications, one went through to the interview phase.  It was with Cambridge University Press.  What started as a three-day weekend trip to visit my sister turned into a two-week stay, I think.  I didn't get the job, of course, but here is what I remember:  Near the end of the two weeks, my sister took me to a party on Roosevelt Island.  My heart must've jumped a little at the sight of water so close.  I realized I was tired of the concrete jungle and wanted to see some indication of movement and life other than busy people and yellow taxicabs.
  3. Austin, 2011
    First it was kayaking, then it was rowing.  Being on the lake changed my mind about this place.  It wasn't until I spent time at Towne Lake that I began to let go of my fears and like the city I moved to.
How didn't I recognize my affinity to water until so late in life?  My parents took me to the city pool every summer, and I've been to various beaches plenty of times . . .  I think it's because I was never taught to swim properly.  I love being in and near water, but I don't trust my ability to swim.  I never learned correct breathing technique, and I'm convinced that proper technique is the difference between mediocre swimmers and amazing swimmers.  Sure, one could say that about nearly anything in life, but running, for example -- that's pretty basic.  There's no huge learning curve there.

Well, today I learned* that I definitely should've had swimming lessons, and here's why:  Big and tall people make great swimmers and rowers.  Short and thin people make great runners and cyclists.  It's no wonder I dislike running so much and longingly watch swimmers during the Olympics and think, "I want to do that.  I should be able to do that."  Both my genes and love of fresh water indicate aptitude.**  Perhaps I'll sign up for swimming lessons before the year is through.


*Read Bigger is Better, Except When It's Not.  It's all about how body type strongly predicts success in a sport.
**Yet another reason to start swimming: How Many Calories Do Olympic Athletes Need?


Thing I'm thankful for: lunch breaks

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