Let’s be clear. I am a swimmer. I started swimming competitively at the ripe old age of 4 and didn’t stop until I was 18. And I was good, in fact I think I still hold some records at the club I swam for in South Carolina. I was the only freshman on my team to earn a varsity letter in high school. I was also a fickle, often lazy little shit and would declare I was fed up with swimming and wanted to do something else. So I would go on sabbatical and try a new sport from time to time. Unfortunately, if you’re a swimmer it’s often because you physically can’t do anything else because you severely lack hand-eye coordination or can’t breathe when you run as evident in the following tales of my athletic failure.
In an early bout of rebellion at the age of 6 I told my coach, awkwardly also my father, that I hated swimming because it was stupid and wanted to play soccer. He accepted my defection with good grace. Coincidentally this is around the time I discovered my hatred of running, a deep loathing I still harbor to this day, so instead of chasing the ball I would focus my attention on the weedy flowers on the field and pretty butterflies. I was back in the pool within the week.
Around my late elementary school days my friend’s dad started coaching for a community kids basketball league. She was recruiting, I liked the idea of not being in a cold pool for awhile, done deal. Needless to say I was horrible. The fact I had to run up and down the court aside, I couldn’t make a basket to save my life, I had no idea how to understand the X’s and O’s on the play board, and to this day I can’t be passed the ball without jamming my fingers. My dad really tried to help me on this one. He even bought a net to put up in our driveway. But being an angsty pre-teen I just snapped and yelled at him any time he tried to offer help. Sorry Dad, my bad. Luvs you. I stuck out the season but happily called it quits immediately following our last game.
I thought I had this one, what with no prolonged running and all. I forgot to take into account frequent, jarring contact with the floor. And large balls being pelted at my head. This was 8th grade, right around the time I was being forced into two a days for swimming. I was all, “hell no I’m not jumping in a pool at 5:00 in the morning, going to school and then jumping in a pool again! What can I do to get out of this?” Try out for volleyball, of course! The first red flag: I was put on the second B team. As in there was the A team, the B team and the nameless rabble of the second B team. I was decent at setting up spikes but couldn’t spike the ball, I could barely serve underhand forget overhand or jump serves and I lived in fear of having to dive for the ball so I never did. It really fucking hurt to hit the ball so I always half-assed it, usually resulting in the ball not going over the net or sending it sailing into some poor bystander’s face. I did play the entire season but thankfully, being the second B team, we didn’t have a lot of games.
A natural extension from swimming, one might say. Perhaps. Except I was traumatized at an early age. At a swim camp they let us jump off the highest diving platform. I somehow managed to land ass first, which stung really really really bad, ripped a huge hole in the butt of my swim suit, and literally made me fart water. Being young and stupid, I totally forgot about the hole and wore the same suit to our big swim meet the next day. Watch the Olympics? You know how swimmers start their races? By bending over, showing their exposed ass to the world behind them. That embarrassment and the haunting stinging of my butt kept me out of diving. I’m 24 years old and still can’t do a flip off the spring board for christ’s sake.
I was smart enough not to try after multiple failed attempts at catching the ball while playing catch.
HA! I once got a B in gym because I refused to run the mile and power walked it instead.