Thanks to Tara Freeman for contributing this story.
As with other sports, athletes become very close friends with their teammates. However, swimming is a sport so very different from all the others. If you see a swim team together, you probably won’t think of swimming as an “individual sport.” Along with the countless other reasons that could be mentioned to explain the family-like bond between teammates, here are my top ten:
10. Family meals… for every meal. Whether it’s a team breakfast after morning practice, crepe night at Coach’s house, or dinner after the second practice of the day, the world is bound to see swimmers congregate at the “swimmer table,” where plates are stacked high, chocolate milk is seen in front of every swimmer, and laughter is a constant occurrence.
9. Grocery store trips. Let’s be honest, swimmers don’t just eat at meal time; they must also hunt for a bountiful supply of peanut butter, gummies, and other such snacks. As a result, swimmers are likely to be seen entering the grocery store in a massive flock of parkas, gathering and sharing snacks, like all good families do.
8. Sharing clothes. If you talk to any swimmer, you will most likely be informed about how difficult it is to find clothes that fit the shoulders of a competitive mermaid. As a result, when you have a teammate who wears the same size of clothing as you, you WILL share. That’s just what families do. (…and who wouldn’t want to expand outfit possibilities? Bonus.)
7. Naps. The hobby all swimmers are best known for, besides their sport. Nothing says “family” quite like a 5-person pig-pile on a twin sized bed, ensuring the warmest, most cuddly pre-practice nap possible.
6. Vacations. For some teams that might mean a training trip (during moments when they’re not swimming 10,000 yards), but for other teams, that means BEACH DAY. College students complain that they don’t get to see their friends during the summer. Swimmers, on the other hand, view a week without each other as a struggle, so they know an entire summer is just impossible. As a result… Beach Day: A fabulous private holiday created to celebrate the goodness of being together with teammates from various states and consume unhealthy amounts of boardwalk pizza.
5. Traditions. All teams have traditions, and some are better than others. For example: Thankswimming. Prior to leaving on Thanksgiving break, freshmen bring utensils, cups, and plates, sophomores create deserts, juniors try their hand at side dishes, and the seniors prepare for venturing into the real world by learning how to cook main dishes. Honestly, what could be better than a homemade meal with your family?
4. Study Buddies. College can be hard, but having fellow swimmers in your classes makes a world of difference. Furthermore, few things make the library more inviting that seeing a family of parkas huddled in a group. (Because remember, “We are student-athletes, not athlete-students.”)
3. Jumping for Joy, or Crying with Care. Teammates are there through the good times and bad. Between cards of encouragement, or spending time praying for one another, the bond between teammates is more like that of a family, rather than a group of individuals merely racing for faster times. Family matters more than sport.
2. Coach is actually your mom. Every family needs a mom, and let’s be honest, that mom is Coach. She stocks her office with snacks and is willing to do anything to help her kids. She teaches responsibility and graciously demands respect. Coach also has eyes on the back of her head, like all moms do. Coach Mom is loving, caring, and very proud of each one of her kiddos.
1. Home is where the heart is. While every pool is different, wherever my team is, my heart is there also. Home is when I am with my family. My Falcon Family.
Swimming is a beautiful sport, filled with even more beautiful people. I am thankful for a sport that has impacted my life in so many ways, and I would like to encourage my fellow swimmers out there to step back and reflect on the blessing swimming is.