Birthday Swims

A few days ago was my birthday, and it got me thinking about birthdays and swim practice. More specifically, I started thinking about a little something called a birthday swim. Picture this: you’re in a group on the swim team that primarily consists of about 10-12 year olds, give or take a few years. You show up to practice on your birthday, either excitedly or begrudgingly. Maybe your Mom is even gonna show up at the end with cookies or popsicles or something to share with your team. That would be fun, right? But before you can get to that point, your coach calls you over. He’s found out it’s your birthday, and you have to do a birthday swim.

What is a birthday swim you ask? Well, it’s when you have to do a swim all by yourself, usually butterfly, on your birthday. The kicker isn’t that you have to get in and swim some butterfly all by yourself, it’s that your teammates will be lining the lanes on either side of you, splashing you. And, they usually use their kickboards to make the biggest waves possible. Sounds fun, right?

So, there you are, on top of the block getting ready to dive in for a 200 butterfly (you just turned 12, your coach said you could handle it) with your team at the ready with their kickboards. You dive in, immediately feeling the tsunami that’s happening around you.

The funny thing is, however, that it’s really not the worst thing ever. While you’re moving through your 8 laps of fly (you get to do it short course, lucky you) you can’t help but laugh a little because it is just so ridiculous. Uh oh, you laughed a little too hard, and sucked up some water. Alright, so you decide maybe you should stop laughing mid 2-Fly. You come into the wall on the last 25, your team has double their efforts to make you fight through the biggest waves you’ve ever seen. You’re not sure how you can even manage to sneak in a breath when the waves are coming at you so hard. So, you just put your head down and do your best to fight your way to the wall.

You touch.

You’re pretty wiped, I mean you just swam through hurricane conditions.

But, when you get to the wall your team laughs and wishes you happy birthday. You laugh to yourself because you know that you have a whole year to repay your teammates when it’s their birthday.

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About Mary Northcutt

Mary Northcutt

Mary is a former 6-time All-American swimmer at Carson-Newman University. She technically was a 50-freestyler, but her favorite events were relays. She wrapped up her swimming career at the 2020 Division II National Championships in March. Since then, she has recently started her first year of Physical Therapy school at …

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