As Joanne noted in Thursday’s comments, I am not the world’s biggest fan when it comes to the Olympics. It’s no surprise, really, given that I am not a huge fan of televised sports overall. And besides, a lot of the sports are just crazy. Synchronized diving? Skeet shooting? Handball? I’m sure these are really fun things to do, and even compete in, but must-see tv, they are not.
All that said, however, I’m finding that I’m watching a lot more of the coverage than I expected I would. This is mostly due to the record-breaking victory machine that is Michael Phelps. After reading this incredibly whiny-baby interview* Mark Spitz gave about Phelps possibly breaking his medal record, I really want him to get all eight golds, so I’ve been watching and rooting for him all week. The unexpected side effect of watching the Olympic swim meet, though, is that it is making me realize that I really miss swimming.
Yes, once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, I used to swim. I was pretty terrible — the only time I was ever allowed to compete as the top seed was against the worst team in our division, and I don’t recall that I ever actually won even then. My naturally pigeon-toed legs made swimming the breaststroke virtually impossible, and my general lack of coordination made the butterfly endlessly mystifying. I had decent enough technique in the crawl strokes (backstroke and freestyle) but just wasn’t fast. I could swim forever, though, so my event was what passed for an endurance race at the junior varsity level, the 200 free.
I stopped swimming at the end of 9th grade, when I would have had to make the switch to varsity. My school’s teams were of state-champion quality, so having fun and trying hard were not really enough — I would have had to actually not suck. Until now, I’m not sure I ever regretted giving it up, but I’ve been feeling rather wistful as I’ve been watching Phelps & Co. at work. There is absolutely no chance, of course, that I would ever have made it to the Olympics, but it would be nice to still have a certain amount of skill left.
Other than not being sure I can, in fact, still swim, I suppose there is nothing stopping me from getting back in the pool — there’s a free, indoor one in my neighborhood. And given that I’ve been thinking a lot lately about needing to get more exercise, this might be just the inspiration I need. Perhaps I’ll swing by the pool over the weekend and take a look. I’ve lived within walking distance of it for nearly ten years and have never been inside.
And while Michael Phelps will never know of it, inspiring me to off my ass and back to swimming is nearly as amazing a feat as the whole best-Olympian-of-all-time thing.
(Well, maybe not.)
* Hat tip to Roon for the Spitz article.