I went today to the Swimming Hall of Fame to get in my swim workout. What a weird experience that was. I first walked through that entrance 24 years ago for my first formal workout at the age of six. While I followed my coach to a different swim club seven years later, FLST remained my home team.
Like most places from my youth, the Hall of Fame complex seemed much smaller than I remembered. As I made my way to the locker room, I couldn’t help but think how many times I walked that path as a gangly girl, exhausted and exhilarated from a back breaking workout. The nostalgia really struck me when I walked into the locker room and realized that not a single thing had changed. As I looked over to the changing area, I could almost hear my friends and I laughing and talking about some boy or an upcoming race as we got ready for the carpool home. I smiled at the memory and went over to my old locker to get changed for my workout.
Walking out to the practice pool, I very much felt like I was a stranger there. I felt an urge to tell someone that I had once belonged, but kept the knowledge to myself. I do, however, now understand why old high school football stars feel the need to tell anyone who will listen about their glory days. When you once belonged to something big and something great, it’s hard to feel like it’s completely behind you. There’s a certain compulsion to stay relevant.
Still feeling like I was in a flashback, I hopped into the pool and started my workout. With chagrin, I noticed that both the pool and I were beginning to show our age. The once solid black lines on the bottom of the pool were fading and peeling around the edges and I was a good 20 seconds slower per 100 yards, but it felt really good swimming laps in a familiar pool.
Strangely enough, each pool has a different feel to it. Some feel cold and distant while others are cheerful and energizing. This pool? Well, this pool was like an old friend or a favorite sweater. Completely comfortable and always welcoming.