Last week, while the kids were at swim lessons, I saw a mother introducing her daughter to the water. She didn’t cry; she didn’t scream. She looked perfectly at home in the water. She was FIVE MONTHS OLD. This tiny baby cooperated with every bounce and remained unfazed even when her mom dipped her completely under the water. I joked with her mom about seeing her baby in the Olympics someday. “That’s the plan,” she laughed.
Lately, I’ve been telling Z and M about my upcoming trip to the Gold Coast to watch one of my best friends and USA National Team Member Eva Fabian compete in the Pan Pacific Championships in the 10K Open Water (Their response: “She swims for TWO HOURS? Won’t her arms fall off?”). I also started teaching swim lessons at the local YMCA. With both of those events in mind, I’ve thought a lot about what swimming has come to mean to me since my competitive career ended in February. I still manage to get in a workout of my own on occasion, but swimming has become something I can enjoy as a fan and participate in as a teacher and a coach. And I love it.
I studied Italian Language and Cinema in Italy in the summer of 2012. Our course was based in Siena where we had the privilege to participate in homestays with host families. In Siena, neighborhoods are broken up into smaller communities known as contrade (s. contrada). We lived in Istrice (Porcupine) with our host mom, Paola; however, she remained loyal to the Torre (Tower) contrada where she grew up. Twice every summer, the ten of the seventeen contrade compete in the Palio, a grand pageant followed by a bareback horse race around the Piazza del Campo. Being able to attend the Palio was a crazy and wonderful experience. Having a “home base” in Siena while we traveled on weekends was also an interesting part of the trip. We were able to experience Siena in a more thorough way than visitors who only come for the Palio days filled with pageantry and chaos. Our weekend trips, however short, were still chock-full of Italian cultural and historical sites. I only wish we could’ve stayed in Rome longer than a weekend, but I guess that just means I’ll have to go back.