While attending Auburn University I didn’t exactly try to stretch myself scholastically. I was more interested in having fun than learning much of anything. So, as you can imagine, I did not pick the most challenging classes as my electives. Instead I gravitated towards the easy stuff like tennis, rowing and swimming.
I was very excited about taking swimming as a class because I used to swim when I was little. I was the Butterfly Champion for the 5-7 year old Albany Doublegate Swim Team -two years running. Thankyouverymuch! So how hard could this be? I singed up for Swimming 101 and felt confident that I would ACE this class. A few days before class started I got a call from the instructor and she asked if I knew how to swim?
I was 21 years old; of course I knew how to swim! She then told me that the 101 class was for students that did not know how to swim and that I would need to go to 201. Well, long story short 201 was full and so was 301 and so I ended up in a Graduate Level Swim Class (if there even is such a thing) and I think it was actually called Swimming 97001. No sweat for an old swim pro like me!
I was running a little late to the first class and hustled into the indoor pool to find everyone already in the water. When I looked around it was apparent that I had missed some sort of memo regarding the details of the class expectations; specifically the dress code. All the other kids had on their Fancy Professional Auburn Swim Team One Pieces, matching swim caps and goggles. I, on the other hand, had on a bikini, a pair of swim floaties and I think I even grabbed a shower cap to put over my hair.
I got the stink-eye from everyone and the instructor felt it necessary to let me know how inappropriately I was dressed, as if I hadn’t already figured that one out. So, to “warm up” we swam 30 laps. I thought I was going to die but everyone else seemed fine. I started noticing that everyone else was, like, really fast. And, like, really good. And then I took a closer look at their Fancy Professional Auburn Swim Team gear and realized that they all said “Auburn Jr. Olympic Swim Team.”
Oh. Dear. Lord. All I wanted to do was take an easy elective and somehow I ended up training with Michael Phelps.
The smart thing would have been to drop the class but, as we all know, I rarely do the “smart thing” in these situations. I had to defend my swimming honor! So there was no way that I was giving up.
Over the course of the semester we had to perform ridiculously difficult swimming tasks. Things that I had never heard of. Things that you only see in Rocky! One class all we did for the entire hour was tread water while holding a 5lb weight above our head. I know that may not sound that hard but it would take a lot less than 5lbs to drown you if you are totally exhausted from treading water for an hour! A lot of days we had to do relays of some sort; sometimes just for speed, sometimes utilizing different strokes and sometimes we had to swim through fire. Ok, maybe the last one was a stretch. But every time there was a team relay I was ALWAYS the last one to be picked.
I was totally the fat kid at swimming dodge ball.
Then one day we went over and practiced with the dive team. Now, I am not a fan of heights. The prospect of standing on a chair to change a light bulb kind of makes me woozy so you can only image how freaked out I was when we had to jump of the high dive. Head first. Do you know how high the high dive is????
Thirty Three Feet!
Thirty Three Feet straight up in the air!
That is really freakin high!! Especially when you are forced to leap off of it HEAD FIRST! All the rest of the class had no problem climbing right up and taking a perfect swan dive off. I was the very last one to go and I cried like a little girl. When I eventually got up there I just could not muster up the nerve to actually stand up on the board. I clutched on to the board for dear life and inched my way out to the end of the board. And then I just stayed there paralyzed with fear. There was no way that I was voluntarily launching my body off this bouncy board, so I started inching my way back. The instructor had enough of my antics and eventually just climbed up there and pushed me off the damn dive board with her foot. I screamed bloody murder all the way down to my death.
Ok, I didn’t die. But, I totally could have.
By the time the semester ended I felt like I had gone to war. I was bruised, tired and physically exhausted from the TOTAL HELL this class had put me through. The upside was that I was in amazing shape and could totally out-swim any of my friends. I got there on the very last day of class praying that the instructor would take it easy on us since we had been in full forced Olympic training for the last three months.
Not so much. Our “final” was that we had to swim a mile. A MILE. Do you know how many laps that is in an Olympic sized swimming pool? Seventy Two. And one lap is there and back, so that is really 144 lengths of the pool. I was obviously the very last one to finish. It took me the entire class time (plus a little extra) and I puked about 15 times during it, but so help me I finished! I could not believe it.
So, I was unofficially on the 2004 Auburn Jr. Olympic Swim Team and am damn proud of it.