A lot of people have asked me over the past several years why I chose to compete and train in the sport of swimming. The frequency has started to dwindle with the sports surge in popularity from the games in Beijing to London, which should be refered to in the history books as the Phelpsian era in which he was the Genghis Khan of Gold medals. I mean, a Ryan Lochte quote about an act that EVERY human on earth has done at one time or another at a pool party, made national news and sparked a Funny Or Die video about urination. There are several reasons why I chose swimming, such as its health benefits, and blah-blah-blah, but I thought I would take you all on a journey. A journey through all of my sporting endeavours, to find out how I really started jumping in the pool at the break of dawn every day.
Like a lot of kids, the first sport I ever actively participated in was soccer. Although I would’ve much rather enjoyed playing Mario Cart in my room, my parents signed me up for a city rec league in which the organization running the show would decide the teams. Now, looking back on this, you would assume that a random pick-em style draft of 5 year olds would yield some pretty evenly matched teams. You would be wrong. My team was the 2008 Detroit Lions of rec league soccer (the Lions went 0-16 in 2008).
The Big Green was abysmal. And yes, we share the name of the 1995 film based on a loveable band of misfits who form a terrible soccer team, but eventually come out as champions in the end. We never became champions. I have a shelf full of participation trophies to prove it. We did however get milk shakes when they gave us our failure statues, and I like milk shakes.
The Big Green is probably the worst franchise in the history of sports. Whenever we were able to beat a team not only would all of our parents go out and buy lottery tickets, but the kids on the other team would cry WAY harder than kids usually do when they lose. You think it would be the same, but it totally wasn’t. I could tell. As our trend of mediocrity continued, so did the milk shakes, and I put on a sizeable amount of weight. By fourth grade I was as wide as I was tall, and my mother did not think that this was a good thing.
The summer after fourth grade, my mother made me swim laps at the community pool to lose weight. Again, time that I would’ve rather spent playing Mario Cart, but I dropped twenty pounds and my heart beat like a normal ten-year old’s should. This was my first flirtation with swimming. I would continue to swim laps every summer for several years, but we’ll come back to that later, I’m not done being bad at soccer yet.
By some miracle, I made the soccer team in middle school. I mostly sat on the bench and was told to stand places during drills at practice. At one of these practices, I was doing an excellent job of standing when an athletic teammate collided with me, knocking me to the ground. That is how I broke my arm. Yes, I broke my arm playing SOCCER. Alas, my soccer career was over.
I didn’t just stick to being bad at kicking a ball. I played on a church basketball team for one year. In that year I believe I scored a total of 2 points and shot 0% from the free throw line. Again, this was in a CHURCH BASKETBALL league.
With my success in soccer and basketball, I figured, why not try the most violent sport of all? I played football in 7th and 8th grade. I made the B team both years. The ‘B’ in “B Team” stands for, “You are about to be hurt very BADLY by the kids on the ‘A’ team.” So, as much as I love the sport of football, I felt that two years of organ damage was enough and I hung up my shoulder pads. College scouts everywhere weren’t the least bit disappointed.
Well, I had continued to swim laps every summer since I was ten, so I picked up a flyer for the swim team at an event my high school held for kids who were about to be freshman. I went the first day, and the rest is history. I fell in love with the sport, I went to Omaha to watch the 2012 Olympic Trials (again that’s ‘watch’, I’m better at swimming but not that much better), and I met the cool dudes of SwimSwam.com.
Jesse Kubanet, swimswam contributor
Contributor, Jesse Kubanet, started swimming when he was young, because he was heavy and needed to loose weight. Years later, he joined his high school swim team and fell in love with wearing Speedos. He is currently a Junior on the swim team at Wheeling Jesuit University. He will be away from the team this fall, to spend a semester in Chicago participating in the Second City’s semester long Comedy Studies Program. He loves swimming and would love to party with Anders Holm from Workaholics. After college, his dream is to become a comedy writer, especially for Conan O’brien.