Jellyfish swimming, an incident.

In yesterday’s post, I alluded to my lack of athletic abilities.  Being as I don’t think I’ve ever expounded upon this, boy, are you in for a treat today!

Not until I was a senior and 17 years old did I participate in an organized sport.  Sure, I was active in gym class and when I went to AWANA at church, but those hardly count.

So why did I wait until my very last year of high school to join a team?  And how on earth could I – completely out of shape and having zero coordination – have managed to even be permitted to join?

These are excellent questions.

Here’s the thing.  I was a smarty pants.  No Sheldon Cooper, but close enough.  Given my obvious brilliance and impressively well-rounded roles in a variety of clubs, the only thing holding me back from being “full scholarship material” was my lack of athletic participation.  And, well, the only way that I was going to make it to college was on a full ride.

So there was that.

But I had another motivation fueling my interest in sports: I wanted to be able to relate to any child that I might have one day who might be athletically inclined.  I wanted to know how it felt to push myself, to feel inferior, to see progress, to want to quit, to NOT quit and to be able to sympathize.

But still, weren’t there try outs?  How could a girl who has never been athletic make any team at 17 years old?

Well, friends, I went to Hedgesville High School in Hedgesville, West Virginia.  The swim team was brand-spankin’-new and needed people, no tryouts required!  Never mind the fact that I didn’t know how to swim OR dive…

That’s not to say I’d have drowned.  No, I could stay afloat and somehow make it from one end of a pool to the other, but nobody would have called that swimming.  No, it was more like bobbing along like a jellyfish.  For the first few weeks of practice, I eked by without anyone having to know that I couldn’t dive.  (Not only could I NOT dive, but I was utterly terrified to even try.)  When the day came to practice diving into the pool, I had to hold my friend Jonathan’s hand over and over and over as he patiently dove with me every time.

And while my swimming techniques improved over the season (not sure they could have gotten worse), I was T.H.E S.L.O.W.E.S.T. swimmer you’ve ever seen in your life.  No, seriously, even the freshman girl who had asthma was faster than me.

I’ll never forget the one swim meet that my family was able to attend.  For this particular event, Slow Square Piece was swimming free style.  I lined up, crouched, ready to dive, waiting for the buzzer to set us off.

Slow Square Piece swam her little heart out.

One, two, three, GULP OF AIR!  One, two, three, GULP OF AIR!  One, two, three, GULP OF AIR!

Hey, I hear people cheering!  Yay!  Keep it up!

One, two, three, GULP OF AIR!  One, two, three, GULP OF AIR!  One, two, three, GULP OF AIR!

Yep, there’s definitely some excited shouting going on!  Don’t slow down!  People are watching!

One, two, three, GULP OF AIR! One, two, three, FLIP AT THE END.

Wait!  Did someone actually just try and grab my foot?!  Is someone outside of the pool seriously trying to slow me down?!


One, two, three, four, five, GULP OF AIR!


One, two, three, four, five, GULP OF AIR!

When I finished my race, my heart felt like it was going to burst.  Never once did I lose focus, never once did I slow down (as if that were possible).  As I did with every other race, I swam with the hope that this time I might not come in last place.

Just one problem.

There had been a false start.  Every single swimmer managed to realize that and exited the pool… except Slow Square Piece.  Nope, my lonely, little body was the ONLY body going back and forth and back and forth and back and forth – slowly – convinced that I was still competing with a pool full of other swimmers.  All along they had been trying to stop me at the end of the pool and I wriggled free, kicking them off, like a tuna swimming for her life as everyone looked on.


Interestingly enough, quite without my help, the team managed to make it to States.  Naturally, I was placed in a heat with everyone else’s slowest swimmers.  You’ll be happy to know (and I’m pleased as punch to tell you) that I was the fastest slow swimmer at States and, for the first and last time, came in first place, beating out all of the other jellyfish swimmers!

Bennett will be so proud one day.


  1. August 15, 2013

    I remember that event! I’m glad you got to participate and that it was a non-violent sport activity. 🙂

  2. August 15, 2013

    Excellent story of perseverance. Slow swimming is actually not that much easier than fast in many ways. Harder to stay afloat without the fast kicks, I think.

  3. August 19, 2013
    Aunt Manny

    Oh, I remember this day. You poor thing. You were exhausted after that round trip down the pool. Oy. You didn’t lack determination, that’s for sure. awww.

  4. April 27, 2015
    noelle nestlebush

    this is too funny!! i am glad that you swam your little heart out, and you would have won that race for sure. 🙂

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