CHLORINE CHRONICLES: Friends that swim together, stay together

(Photo used by permission of Rebecca Waterson)
Freshman Rebecca Waterson, Ally and Kate get ready to go for a swim at the Incline Village Recreation Center in December 2012.

Freshman Rebecca Waterson lives at school and the pool. You will find her catching a nap in the car on the way to practice, staring at the black line at the bottom of the pool for hours every day, being yelled at to go to bed because she has to be up in four hours for morning practice or grabbing a snack in the kitchen. Waterson writes the biweekly blog “Chlorine Chronicles” on her life as a competitive swimmer training with the DART at Sacramento swim team.

By now I’ve gone over most of the negative things in swimming. I’ve had injuries, I’ve swum through bad weather, I’ve spent my holiday season – along with most of my weekends – in the pool.

So what makes swimming such an addictive and amazing sport? It’s the friends and experiences that pull me back to the pool every day. Succeeding in the sport as a team is what makes swimming so special.

Usually when you move to a new town, it is stressful, and you worry about whom you will meet and fitting in. It was different for me when I moved from Lake Tahoe to Sacramento in July 2015. Through swimming I already knew half of my new swim team and some of my new schoolmates. Fitting into my new life in Sacramento was easy, especially because of my two friends Katie and Sydney, whom I’ve known since I was 9 years old.

I met Katie at a Stanford swim camp; we were both wearing the same Sierra Nevada Swimming (SNS) Junior Olympics T-shirts. Despite being on different swim teams, Katie and I still managed to keep in touch. We were often on the same All-Star and Western Zone travel meets, which was how I also met Sydney. Sydney was my roommate at 2013 San Diego All Stars, and we shared the same crazy love for butterfly. It was through her that I learned about SCDS.

(Photo used by permission of Rebecca Waterson)
Ally, freshman Rebecca Waterson and Kate are reunited at a Folsom swim meet in 2013.

Therefore, living in Sacramento felt just like an extended swim meet. In the first couple of months, I was still not used to seeing my Sacramento swim friends so much.

I missed the friends I had in Tahoe though, including Kate and Ally. I’d swum with them since I was 8. At the pool we were practically inseparable, always in the same lane or racing each other. Together we got a lot faster and started qualifying for All-Star meets and traveling.

On Truckee Tahoe Swim Team (TTST) we were the “Incline Girls” after our town, Incline Village. We were the only people who didn’t live in Truckee. We trained together, made each other faster, and motivated each other. When Truckee didn’t have practice, we would swim in Incline to keep up our training and because we just had so much fun together.  Maybe we giggled more than swam sometimes, but we were in middle school then.

We bought matching reindeer swim caps for the holidays, and for a couple of years we would spend a night looking at old swim videos of ourselves on New Year’s Eve. For a while Ally and I were dubbed the “watermelon twins” since we had matching green suits and watermelon caps.

Also on TTST were Grace, Anna, and Megan, three girls whom I am also still friends with. When I train in Tahoe, they make me feel as if I never left TTST.

(Photo used by permission of Rebecca Waterson)
Freshman Rebecca Waterson and Kate show off their medals at the SASO Junior Olympics in March 2013.

There was a TTST team-building practice during 2016 winter break, and I didn’t know if I would be allowed to go, since I wasn’t a part of the team anymore. Grace, however, had other ideas.

“Becca, even if you don’t think you are a part of the team, you still are to all of us.”

I know that wherever I am I will always have friends as long as there is a pool.

At DART, Coach Brian explains to the team how training is a group effort. If one person decides not to try they let the whole team down! I depend on my teammates just as much as they do on me to swim fast.

My friends and I helping each other to become better swimmers is encouraging, and the feeling of success when we all do well in meets is one of the reasons why I swim. I love going to practice to challenge myself to do better than I did the day before, but I know that without my teammates I might not have the motivation to go.

By Rebecca Waterson

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