A Letter to My First Love: How We’ve Grown Apart

Thanks to Emily Gugliotta for contributing this story.

A Letter to my First Love:

I fell in love at a very young age, not with a person, but with a sport, with swimming. Most people think of their first love as a person, someone who they couldn’t imagine living without, but for me that was swimming. I can remember it was almost love at first sight, it did not take long after my first practice to realize you were the one, the sport I was meant to play and the love I was meant to experience. You were all consuming, and the years I spent with you were by far the most life changing of my entire life.

I am writing this letter for a few reasons, first and foremost I want thank you. You were so much to me, I loved you, hated you, needed you, and dreaded you; but for whatever the reason I craved you, and going without you was like going through withdrawal, I was addicted to you. You were my muse, and everyone around me knew it, the rush I got from you was the best natural high a person could ask for. You taught me discipline, dedication, teamwork and how to be a leader. The hours I spent staring at black lines taught me how to be independent, I cannot count the amount of conversations I had with those lines, how many decisions I made staring at them.

Thank you for being my rock when no one else was, for helping me through my toughest days, I always felt instantly better the second I dove into the water. Thank you for being my toughest critic and biggest supporter, you taught me what a strong work ethic can do, and what a waste of time slacking is. You taught me to be a better person, and I cant thank you enough for that, your lessons will stick with me for my entire life. I always thought you would be with me forever, and I still have that hope to this day. I always thought we would make it, I was the silly girl who thought no matter what would happen we would be together forever, but life happens, things change people and love is not always enough.

The second reason I am writing this letter is to say I am sorry. I am sorry I am no longer the swimmer I was. I will always call myself a swimmer at heart, but it will be two years at the end of this month since I stepped foot on a block in front of a starter to race. In those two years there has not been a day that I have not thought about you, where I haven’t relived our greatest victories and our biggest defeats. I dream about you on a regular basis, I wake up drenched in sweat, blankets on the floor, out of breath from dreaming about being one with you again.

I am so sorry I am no longer that person, that person who put you first, I cant be that person anymore, at least not right now. I want you to know how important you were to me, how everyone knew of us, I was the swimmer, not just me. I am sorry that I had to give up on us, people to this day ask me why, and I have to tell them that we aren’t meant to be one at this moment, reasons beyond either of our controls are keeping us apart. I tell them that I am not done, we are not finished, and someday we will return to each other, stronger than ever before. I just hope our bond was strong enough to bring us together in the future.

That brings me to my last point, I hope someday we will find each other again. Much like some relationships aren’t meant to be at a specific time, yet later in life they are perfect, I hope that’s what happens to us. I hope someday down the road our timing will be right again, it was right for 9 years, but right now it isn’t. This break, I hope, will make us stronger; will make our bond a forever bond. You were everything to me, I miss you more than anything and you will always be my first love.


A Swimmer at Heart

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Kate Gulitti

What a beautiful piece! Your words resonate with me! Swimming was my first love, too. And it was terribly painful when we parted ways in college. But swimming did return to me later in life. I became a Swim Mom, a Masters swimmer, and a coach. I even dabbled in open water swimming. No longer in the pool now, I feel often feel that tug at the heartstrings. But I recognize the sport of swimming as the amazing teacher it is. Like you, it continues to shape my life. I know it’ll always be there. I’m still a swimmer and so are you.


Yes, you lived swimming. It consumed you, and defined you. You have grown into a independent young women with the knowledge that sometimes our first love needs to take a back seat to pursue other dreams and ambitions. Your courage to move forward has opened up a new world. You have the leadership skills to make a difference.

Phyllis Peterson

I have never been been a swimmer but I am a mother and grandmother to three amazing people who feel as passionately about swimming as you do. Swimming has taught each one of them how to reach their goals through hard work, to be productive members of a team, and to inspire others through their passion for their sport. Good luck to you Emily, you are a very special girl.

About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona and the University of Florida. While her college swimming career left a bit to be desired, her Snapchat chin selfies and hot takes on Twitter do not disappoint. She is now coaching for Loggerhead Aquatics in her hometown …

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