In only its fifth year of existence, the Waynflete swim program has enjoyed great success. While this year’s squad was considerably smaller than in years past, the swimmers, under the experienced guidance of first year coach Steve Withers, continued to impress. Most recently, they swam well at the Class B State Meet at the University of Maine. The boys team, comprised of only five swimmers, placed 13th out of 24 teams, and the girls team of only six swimmers placed 13th out of 26 teams. Of particular note, Caleb Levine was 6th in the 100 Fly and Kiera MacWhinnie was 5th in both 100 Fly and 500 Free.
Following is Kiera’s exploration of what motivates her to swim.
This morning, as I arrived at school with frozen hair straight from a 5:20 a.m. swim practice, someone asked me “Why do you swim?”
The question got me thinking. What is the point of getting up to swim at 4:45 a.m., if it is always hard work and is not always enjoyable. Wouldn’t anyone rather be asleep at 5:00 a.m. rather than being at a pool? Why go through the hassle of committing myself to being up that early every single day? Why make myself go to bed at 8:00 p.m. so that I can get the same amount of sleep other students can get by going to bed at 11:00 p.m.? Why risk breaking my hair that has been frozen from going outside after morning practices in the winter? Why have green tinted hair after exposure to extreme amounts of chlorine? What is the point of all of this? Why do people swim?
High school swimming has the luxury of only having morning practice once a week. On the other hand, club swimmers, like me, consistently rise at the break of dawn or before to go to practice. Since I wasn’t sure for myself, I decided to ask my Waynflete teammates. The most common response is that swimming is great exercise. As one member of the swim team put it, “I can always count on swimming to give me a good workout.” Another common response is that swimming is something they have been doing for many years, so they can’t just drop it. One of my teammates said, “I enjoy swimming because it is a great life-long sport,” which reiterates the idea that they are in the habit of swimming. “I grew up swimming so I have a commitment to the sport” said another.
Their responses rang true for me and got me thinking about the other benefits of swimming. There is a great social aspect to it. Swimming has created so many of my friends so that even if they are not on my team, I see them constantly because the swimming world is so small. Swimming creates a great environment in which to work hard with my friends. Swimming also benefits me mentally because it releases stress and strengthens my mental game. Every time we race, we race against the clock. Racing against the clock creates a consistent challenge that most sports don’t have, which sharpens my mind and always makes me want to achieve my personal best. At the Southwestern Meet this year, my relay team dropped three seconds off our best time, which felt great because we achieved our best and did it as a team.
Why do I swim? It turns out that for me, swimming is an amazing sport with huge rewards.