There’s a time in every swimmers’ life when they decide that it’s time for them to invest in some of their own gear. A set of fins, a kickboard, you know all that good stuff. You quickly realize that shoving a wet set of fins into your bag every time you leave the pool is just not going to cut it. So, you invest in a mesh bag. If you’re like me, you get an obnoxiously loud colored one. I’ve had a lime green and a neon orange one in my day. At practice, in a sea of mesh bags, you’re gonna want one that stands out a little bit. So, you lug that mesh bag around. It’s a commitment to the sport because now you’re carrying around not one, but two bags to go to swim practice. If you aren’t lucky enough to be able to leave your mesh bag at the pool you practice at, then you may even have to bring it to school with you. Trust me, I know how ridiculous it feels to carry your school backpack, swim bag, mesh bag, and lunchbox with you nearly every day.
Growing up, my club team always had a handful of high school seniors commit to swim in college every year. This meant, around the holidays, we always had a group of college swimmers training with us for a week or two while they were home for Christmas. I always thought they looked so cool rolling up on the pool deck in all of their college gear. Suit, cap, swim bag, all of it. You know what else I noticed the college kids had? A mesh bag with their name on it, and their school logo or name emblazoned across it. Alabama, Auburn, Louisville, Tennessee (I’m from the South can you tell?) I saw all sorts of college mesh bags brought back to train at home. I don’t know why, but getting one of these mesh bags, to me, meant you had made it.
So, fast forward a few years. I’m swimming at Carson-Newman, and I have the opportunity to finally get my hands on one of these mesh bags. It’s a giant blue mesh bag with Carson-Newman on one side, and an Eagle’s head on the other (#TalonsUp). The cherry on top, my last name is written across the bottom. I’m not really sure why I hyped up these sort of mesh bags for years, but let me tell you it was everything I had dreamed of. There was something about carrying this thing onto the pool deck that really made me feel like I was meant to be there. And you can bet your bottom dollar that I brought this thing home with me every break that I swam with my club team. It is a bit strange to reflect back on it, but showing up at my pool at home, college team mesh bag in hand, I had become someone that I had looked up to in middle/high school.
Now that I’m a swammer, I don’t have a pool that I get to leave my mesh bag at anymore. Since I live in an apartment, I don’t have a great place to keep it there either, so it lives in the trunk of my car. I’m not really sure why I’m so determined to have it on hand, I don’t make it to the pool to swim nearly as much as I’d like to. I’m sure the back of my car isn’t the best place to keep my beloved mesh bag and the gear inside. I know for a fact the tubing in my paddles is dry rotted and sitting in the trunk of my car isn’t helping with the matter. But hey, when the time strikes for me to go to the pool, it’s going to be ready and waiting for me.