When I was 5 years old my Dad put me and my two siblings in swimming lessons. He planned to buy a boat but wanted his kids to be water safe beforehand. Years later he found himself with three competitive swimmers but no boat! Swimming became a family endeavor. We spent many long weekends at swim meets — traveling across the state and country together. It was our identity and what our family did.
Not one for socializing in the stands at these swim meets, my Dad decided to become a swimming official. He started out being a stroke and turn judge and moved up the ranks with experience. He eventually became a well known starter at local meets and on the National circuit. Being British – he had a very distinctive voice, and he was known as the starter who would say “TAKE YOUR MARK” (picture MARK being pronounced more like “MORK”!).
My Dad was a huge proponent of swimming. He would talk about how it brought people together for a common good and created a strong sense of community. And he was right. My Dad passed away 10 years ago from stomach cancer. I swim now because he instilled a lifestyle of not only swimming but general fitness in me. I took many years away from the sport after years of training and competing. But now I swim on a regular basis. Being in the pool and in the open water bring such a sense of familiarity and comfort. I love it – and it reminds me of my Dad.