Sister Pride: Swimming Becomes Lasting Bond for Siblings

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My sister and I have swum together since I was 7 and she was 5. We did summer league together, went to club practice together and went to neighboring colleges. Swimming was the base of our relationship.

We spent an ungodly amount of hours together — whether we wanted to or not. I can’t say that every morning was a pleasure as she isn’t a morning person – nor was every afternoon. There were times that she beat me in a race, and as the older sister, my ego was very much bruised when that happened. The trash talking was never ending and was fantastic at the same time.

While I was in college, I would try and come home and surprise her when she was swimming state. I sat in the stands and cheered her on for every race- which really was a big deal because I am a terrible spectator since I have no patience. Meanwhile, she came to a lot of my college meets that were over two hours away to see me swim. We both offered unwarranted critiques of the other’s swims. We called each other when something went wrong at practice or when we had a great practice. There was laughter, plenty of tears and karaoke in the car but it was the ride of a lifetime.

This weekend is her senior day. Her last home meet ever. I decided to work remotely in the backseat of a car to come watch her meet — to be there for her, one last time. As my parents drive the car and I sit in the backseat, working, I think about the journey we have gone on together. We haven’t been right besides each other every second of the way, physically but I have never had anyone that has supported me as much as my sister. I have never and will never support anyone as much as my sister.

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Photo Courtesy: Jamie Kolar

For me, it was hard to watch the ending of my career but it I never thought it would be hard to watch the end of hers. In a way, I fear that our lives will no longer be intertwined. Swimming has been our common denominator for over 15 years. It was our constant in life. There was never a dull moment around the deck. There was always something to talk about regarding swimming even if the rest of our day was boring. If we were fighting, we still had to go to swim practice together- like it or not.

Swimming forced us to have a relationship. It taught us how to work through our issues, if we had any, for the sake of avoiding uncomfortable car rides. But now time is moving on. We are growing up and swimming is slipping away. We don’t have anything forcing us to talk or even a topic that is a constant in either of our lives. It is scary to say the least. We will now have to purposely find time to spend together. We will have to find things to talk about or explain what is going on in either of our lives. It will be a shift, undeniably.

While swimming may be going away, I know that my sister never will. Because of all the time I spent with her around the pool deck, I am fortunate enough to be close to her. Swimming gave us the space and time to develop a lasting relationship that will last longer than either of our swimming careers. This sport gave me the gift of being able to be around my sister for a long time.

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Photo Courtesy: Jamie Kolar

As she is being presented at her last meet, I look at her and am proud of the person and athlete she is. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to have been part of her journey in some way. She has accomplished so much in the pool and in the classroom. She will go on to do some amazing things and I cannot wait to support her along the way and will hopefully be involved in some way.

For all the graduating seniors who are going through their final meets of the season, know that your family and siblings are so proud of you! We look at your journey and are so proud to have been apart of your careers in some way, shape or form. Congratulations! You deserve the day of celebration and a fantastic last few meets. We cannot wait to cheer you on!

More from Jamie Kolar:

Mental Health Awareness: A Message of Hope to Former Swimmers Struggling

A Letter To the Coach Who Left Me

The Confessions of a Back-Halfer

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Denise Connolly
1 year ago

I love this beautiful letter! ? What a lovely tribute to her swimming sister and and how the sport forged an unbreakable bond. Her story really resonates with me. As the mother of two swimmers, I remember the absolute pride I had seeing my oldest daughter come to my youngest daughter’s college, surprise and cheer her on her senior day. ? A wonderful memory both will never forget. ♥️