An Ode to My Home Club During Christmas Training

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Photo Courtesy: Annie Grevers

By Tori Caudill, Swimming World College Intern

The first jump in the water feels like a familiar hug; a sanctuary. After being away at school for a semester, the winter break is a welcome solace. While my non-swimmer friends are still sleeping, I am training in a pool so much like home to me. All of my problems fall away and everything is okay again. The water is different, calmer, like an old friend that has shared my secrets, tears and anger welcoming me back to a family.

That family of kids and teens from ages 6-18 waiting with open arms to give us a safe place to call home while in the middle of a season that is shaping our swimming career in a way that they will soon learn and experience. Seeing the younger kids brings me back to the days of 25s and goofy-looking caps, that never did fit right on anyone. Seeing the 15 and unders brings me to the middle school days, when no one knew swimming better and I was so close with the girls my age. Then the high school swimmers– in them I see me, just a few short years ago, happy to be swimming, worried about the future, eager to relieve any stress from the finals that they think are hard now (just wait until Microeconomics 2033 gets thrown at you).

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Franklin Community High School’s Natatorium home to the Franklin Regional Swim Team in Franklin, Indiana.

Seeing the coach that helped shape me into the swimmer I am today for the first time is always emotional. So much of a relationship has been built with the person that helped to get you to keep swimming after that awful fly practice, who encouraged me and reassured me that I was ready to swim in college, and so much more. That can never be replaced. A mutual gratitude is lying in the unsaid words, “Thank you for never giving up on me.”

Being a college athlete brings in a whole new family to love and grow alongside. A new school brings with it a new coach, a new team, new parents, and, of course, a new pool. While there is something to be said for the new swimming family we gain in college, nothing can replace the team that you grew up with. In college, people leave every year and for some reason it isn’t as big of a deal as when someone left the club. When college swimming is over, the family scatters, and every year someone new comes in to take the place of whomever was lost.

There is something to be said for the stability that a home club provides for college athletes. While swimmers are leaving the club teams every year as well, there just seems to be more time with the team. Seeing the younger kids grow up and become high schoolers is a pretty amazing thing, and knowing that I get to be there to help shape them in the way that the college students when I was an age group swimmer shaped me, is pretty magical.

Coming home is an overwhelming glimpse into the past– seeing the swimmer that grew up here, fell in love with swimming here, made friends and lost friends here. Coming home for Christmas break and not going to the pool wouldn’t be coming home at all. So thank you, coaches, for welcoming college athletes back into your pools; parents, for welcoming conversation and acting as a second family that will never be replaced; and athletes, for treating us as though we never left in the first place.

2 comments

  1. Brenda Zuzolo

    Love this. Hopefully will be cleared to return to pool for light workouts in 2.5 wks! Any time away from water is like withdrawal….and returning like being home again. Non swimmers just don’t get it…..

  2. Hallie Luedtke

    U of a pool! I had seen many sunrises there! Always breathtaking!