Why Summer Swimming Will Always Have My Heart

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Photo Courtesy: Nicole Farina

By Nicole Farina, Swimming World College Intern. 

Sometimes on the first day of class, a teacher will ask you to describe yourself, or explain who you are to the group. My answer to this question hasn’t once changed in almost 15 years.

“I’m a swimmer.”

I take a whole lot of pride in being a swimmer. It’s who I am, and it always will be. I’ll probably keep calling myself a swimmer until I’m 30. This stems from the swim community that I had the amazing pleasure of growing up in.

When I look back at my childhood, I immediately think of summer swim team. Starting when I was six, that place and that team quickly became my second home for years to come. I could go on for days talking about the memories I made and the friends that I made them with. But the moral of the story is this: being a Piranha at that tiny pool tucked away in the woods of my neighborhood shaped me into the person I am today.

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Photo Courtesy: Nicole Farina

Sometime along the journey that I embarked on after my mom signed me up for the team, I fell in love with swimming. Maybe it was because of the satisfaction of finally swimming butterfly legally after my favorite coach had worked with me for weeks.

Maybe it was because of the pancake breakfasts that we had after a fun practice of playing Sharks & Minnows, and running behind our coaches as they lead us to the baby pool to make whirlpools.

Maybe it was because of the Wednesday nights, the nights that I lived for. The nights spent on our diving boards, screaming our hearts out during the freestyle relays swum in the dark that the fate of our meet depended on.

And maybe it was all three. Whatever it was, this love that I first experienced on my summer team, like most of us, pushed me down a long road in the sport of swimming. But crazily enough, it’s lead me right back to where I started.

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Photo Courtesy: Nicole Farina

I’m still surrounded by the things that made me develop my first passion for something, almost 15 years later. I’ve come full circle at the place that taught me what it means to be a teammate, a cheerer, a competitor, a hard worker, and most importantly, my favorite thing to identify with, a swimmer.

And I couldn’t be happier giving back to this sport, in hope of inspiring a few kids to find the magic of passion for swimming in themselves, as I was so lucky to find.

I still live for those Wednesday nights, but I live for them in a different way. I live for standing at the side of the pool, clipboard in hand with my kids behind me. I live for cheering on the swimmers the same way that my coaches cheered for me: knowing that my voice will 100% be gone on Thursday morning.

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Photo Courtesy: Nicole Farina

I now lead that charge to the baby pool that I used to be in the back of. And I still have that feeling of satisfaction. But this time, I feel satisfied when the eight and under girl I’ve been working with finally figures out how to keep her feet together during butterfly.

Everything that little me loved as a Piranha, from our constant and catchy cheers to the whole team running through a huge banner, still makes my heart so happy. While my swimming journey has taken me lots of places, it’s pretty special that it’s taken me back home, too.

I have nothing but love for my club, high school, and college adventures. But summer swimming made me a swimmer. And it will always have my heart.

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

12 comments

  1. Kara Muscillo

    Connie Villani Weakland Matt Villani April Hendricks Brad Callahan Tara Callahan DeGeorge Dana Jenean Kim Pfarrer DiJoseph loved our summer swimming days

    • April Hendricks

      Best times. Kids now a days have no idea what they are missing!

    • April Hendricks

      Still looking for a swim team for my 9 year old step son. Any ideas??

    • April Hendricks

      Right now west orange but hopefully by the summer denville

    • Kara Muscillo

      April…Lakeland hills would be a good place to start. And summer there are a couple fun lake leagues in Denville

  2. avatar
    Helen Farina

    Great heart to heart comments.Love your essays .Summer swimming is and always will be your happy place Looking forward to read great stories in the future You have many to tell

    • Jamee Jorgensen

      Wow thank you so so so much for this ❤️❤️❤️❤️