Friday, June 8, 2012

Pool Therapy: Part II

Now, as I entered high school, I did so like any other self-conscious, yearning-to-belong-to-something teen. However, I also continued to carry that moment of undeserving relay swimming in the back of my heart. Wicked combo.

As a freshman, I was placed rather effortlessly on the varsity team-- again, feeling as though it was a mistake, a position I hadn't the skill to fulfill. Nevertheless, I went to that practice group anyway.

The lanes were arranged from fastest to slowest, and with my teenage mindset, I settled happily into lane 5 (there were only six lanes!) I was comfortable there and was sure that I could live out all of my dreams in that lane; only looking back now, realizing that I had pre-stifled most of my real dreams before I even stepped onto that pool deck.

At that point, all that I wanted to do was blend in in life. I did so in class, and I was going to do so in the pool. If it weren't for my coach (who actually saw more from me that I did), things would have gone just fine.

In that very first week of my freshman year practice, my coach had attempted to challenge me. Now as a memory, I COMPLETELY understand the intention of my coach; however, as a fragile 14-year-old, I only saw defeat. In front of the entire team, snotty seniors and all, I was to swim my best 100-butterfly for a time--and if I were to make it, the whole team was going to be rewarded by getting out of practice early. I could have cried right then and there.

As the girls waded and situated themselves around my now emptied lane, I breathed in the weight of thirty teenage minds wanting to get out of practice early. I closed my eyes and dove in.

I swam my hardest... or I thought I did. I couldn't help focusing on those faces lined strategically throughout my swim. I didn't even want to come up for air, for fear that I would connect eyes with one of them. Rather than being proud to have been chosen for such a challenge, I was both embarrassed and petrified of the outcome.

And, as my solo race came to a finish, I knew that there was no way that I had accomplished such a feat. The punishment was brought to all-- a horrendous kick set. Thank you, Ryan. (Although none of the girls actually said anything, I felt all of those sarcastic undertones.) How could that coach put me in such an impossible position?? I am not sure I ever fully recovered from those feelings, and found myself hiding in lane-5 for my remaining 3 years.

Looking back, of course I now see what my coach did that day. He saw the potential in me that I had always lacked seeing for myself. That day, he gave me a choice: I could either continue down that self-loathing swim path that I was on, or change it and become a really great swimmer.

We all know what I chose.

However, as I sit with those feelings now, I think that I am nearer to changing my path. I think that I can recognize those undeserved undeserving feelings and work with them. At least now I am going to try.

I leave for the Paralympic Trials on Tuesday. I will compete in Bismarck, North Dakota from the 14th to the 16th, and the Paralympic Team will be announced on Sunday the 17th once all of the results are in. I am not expecting anything other than to actually swim my races as though I actually deserve to be there. Whatever becomes of that is, of course, the outcome of that other path that I never chose for myself. And for that, I am truly excited. 


  1. Girl you DO deserve to be there, go get um!

  2. You deserve to be there more than anyone else!!! Rock it girl! You are AMAZING, INSPIRING, DESERVING, the HARDEST WORKER I have EVER met, and just plain COOL!!!

  3. Ryan, you've definitely done the work. You're ready. You've got the form, the power, the speed, and the will. It's been a pleasure and an inspiration watching you train with such focus and good humor. You're tapered and strong; I know you're going to amaze everyone, including yourself. Have fun!

  4. It is amazing what kind of results you can get from physical therapy pools. Aquatic physical therapy can be applied at all three dimensions of the International classification of functioning, disability and health and quality of life, also an important goal in aquatic physical therapy. I like it because it keeps my joints feeling limber.