Dear Swimming

Photo Courtesy: Brian Jenkins-UVM Athletics

By Chandler Brandes, Swimming World College Intern.

Dear Swimming,

I remember the first time we met.

I was a young, excited swimmer with big clear Speedo goggles, ears sticking out of my cap, and a suit three sizes too big. Not yet knowing how to dive, I jumped in for my first race. To no one’s surprise, I got disqualified. Did I care? Not at all.

But little did I know that there would be plenty of more DQs in my future. Little did I know that I would swap a too-big suit for one that took twenty minutes to get on. My younger self never imagined the places you’d take me and I didn’t know that in a few years I’d be the one swimming at the meets I admired my older teammates for attending.

And little did I know how much you would change my life.


Photo Courtesy: UVM Athletics

I did other sports growing up, but something about you always kept calling me back. I found myself drawn to you and I couldn’t stay away. I was addicted to the sense of accomplishment after a hard workout, the feeling I’d get after achieving my goal, knowing that every day was a chance to get better. I loved that. The early mornings and the hard practices—I even loved those, too.

But as I got older, my relationship with you drastically changed. I started to realize that swimming was what I did, not who I was. I went from being excited for every practice to simply going through the motions. I started to shut down and began questioning what I truly wanted from you.

Even as I started to drift away, you were always there, like clockwork. You were there through the time drops and the seconds added, the good days and the bad days, the peaks and the plateaus. You saw me grow up from a little girl to the person I am today, and I have a laundry list of things to thank you for.


Photo Courtesy: Chandler Brandes

Thank you for providing me with invaluable lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Thank you for introducing me to some of the best friends I will ever have. Thank you for opening doors to opportunities I never thought were possible and for teaching me that I always have it in me to go the extra lap, no matter what.

Most importantly, thank you for never, ever giving up on me.

So here we are. Thirteen years after I jumped in for my first race, I dove in for my last. Although it was not easy saying goodbye to you, I know it’s the right decision.


Photo Courtesy: Brian Jenkins-UVM Athletics

But here’s the thing: it’s not goodbye for good. Even though I’ve hung up my suit, you will always be part of my life, and maybe one day we’ll find each other again.

So, Swimming, thanks for one amazing adventure. What a ride it has been.


A swammer

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.


  1. Sarah Cappelli

    Wait! There’s Masters swimming too….

  2. Anita Draves

    Yes, masters, check into it!!!!

  3. José Antonio

    Almost 20yrs swimme here

  4. Deborah Elkis-Abuhoff

    Left swimming for too many years. Now back in Masters. Love every splash and getting back into the competing too

  5. Teri Mortimer Lavo

    Michael Farmer thought of you after I read this article.

    • Michael Farmer

      Having swum, and coached, and now doing it again – it’s true. And swimming never leaves you. I have the SPMS Championships today through Sunday so it’s back to the team and competition for me. 🙂

    • Teri Mortimer Lavo

      First best of luck. Not sure I could ever get back into it given how long I have really been away from it. There is a pool up here in Tahoe (indoors) I should get to. Watching my grandson is a full time job. I tried several years back and boy was it difficult. It’s hard going slow but I have absolutely no endurance. Interesting enough I have never missed a televised swim meet of any kind since I stopped swimming and that was a hell of a long time ago.

  6. avatar
    Martha Phelan

    I’ve seen it happen over and over…you never know what the future holds…your swimming roots run deep and they will lead you to paths you don’t even know yet …. love that you were a catamount❤️ #UVM