"I've grown up around the water." A term I've heard thrown around a lot in my life by friends, family, acquaintances. Of course, all referring to the idea that they spent so much time on the river, or a lake, or the ocean (especially my Californian friends). Yet when I utter this phrase, I am referring to my connected, almost familial relationship to the pool.
Since I can remember I have spent countless hours at the pool (certain pools more than others) watching my older siblings at swim practice, participating in my own swim and water polo practices, competing, playing, and learning. The pool, particularly Amazon Pool in Eugene, OR., became my sanctuary. Even by the young age of 9 I realized how much this place meant to me. The smell of the pool at 6am during summer morning workouts told me it was summer and the days were long. As I grew older this place began to resonate with me more and more. At age 12 I was told I could no longer practice with the high school water polo team because of new age regulations. Therefore my coach, and now mentor, would open the pool himself every afternoon, two hours before their practice to let this eager, home-schooled pool rat into the 50m pool to work on my technique. I would practice alone, for hours. Making up images of defenders in my head. Working on trick shots, and different techniques that I would one day exhibit during my high school and collegiate years. That time alone, though, in the water at a large pool facility; it became my meditation.
Through high school this place become more of a coliseum than a sanctuary for me as I was able to finally display all of this hard work, and with others around. Yet, during tough emotional times, I would still leave class early and sneak onto the pool deck before it opened and just watch the water. The silent, stillness was peaceful mixed with the constant, and continual ebb and flow of the waves. It was a feeling, I realized, I would need to be around for the rest of my life. I grew up around the water. It has a lifelong connection to me emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Water can make you feel weightless. You can go underwater and mute the world. You can get your anger out with a workout and the water will forgive you. The water can be warm and calm you down. Water is so many things and yet it is so simplistic at the same time.
I grew up around water, and yet I am still afraid when I swim in the ocean.
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