Throwback Thursday: Where My Swimming Career Began

My introduction to swimming pools began a long time ago in Reading, PA. My brother and sister and I grew up in a row home with a very small backyard, but it was big enough to accommodate an inflatable pool. My Nana, who lived just a few houses down the street from us, also had a blow-up pool. We eventually graduated to the real thing, as the East Reading Swimming Association featured an outdoor pool that was only a few blocks from our house. Neighborhood kids loved it, even though it was an odd size for racing (33-1/3 yards instead of 25 or 50 yards/meters). The faded color of these Kodak snaps shows how long ago they were taken.

L to R: Me, my mom (with her beehive hairdo), my younger sister Ronni, and my older brother Bobby. (Presumably that’s my dad’s finger on the far right.) Bob and I are preparing our containers to squirt our sister.
Me going solo in the inflatable pool at my Nana’s house. Apparently, we had a cookout that day. And, apparently, I was up to something sinister, as indicated by my tongue sticking out.
My first time off the 1-meter diving board at the East Reading pool. The following year I tackled the 3-meter board behind me.

Throwback Thursday: Those Miserable Training Trips

As members of the WVU swim team, we would sacrifice our Christmas vacation to go on a 2-week training trip someplace on the globe that was warm and sunny. During my years in college, that included St. Croix (U.S. Virgin Islands) and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Those trips were like “boot camps for swimmers,” with every day featuring triple sessions. The first session was an early morning swim practice lasting two hours. The second involved weight training, calisthenics, plyometrics, and/or runs on the beach for about 90 minutes. The third was an evening swim practice lasting two more hours. 

On Christmas Day they lightened up on us, mandating just one two-hour practice in the morning; then they gave us the rest of the day off. (Thanks for that.) I remember how dreadful and depressing it was to have to practice on Christmas morning!

Below are some snaps from the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Center. Once a week all the teams who had gathered to train swarmed the pool for what they called “Fifty 50s.” It was only a 2500m parctice, but the lanes were crowded, and there wasn’t much time between sprints. Finding a place to dive safely was a challenge. The whole thing was exhausting and annoying, even for this sprinter.

Between sessions we hit the beach or went out on the town, and after the 14 days of agony, we enjoyed a trip to Disney World. The rest of the time we ate or slept.

The dreaded Fifty 50s practice session. That’s me under the red arrow looking for a safe place to dive for the next interval.
C’est moi in the lower left getting ready for another workout. I have no idea why I’m smirking.
The International Hall of Fame Aquatic Center in Fort Lauderdale, a place of memories and miseries for NCAA Division-1 athletes.

Friday Fun: Light It Up Like Dynamite

A few weeks ago I was driving to the Lebanon YMCA for a morning swim. I usually listen to upbeat music to get jazzed up for my workout, letting the tunes take over where the coffee left off. On this particular day, my Spotify randomizer took me to a song called, “Dynamite,” which I had never heard before. I was digging it and thought, “When I get home I need to research who does that one.”

Turns out I was listening to BTS, a K-pop (or Korean pop) group made up of seven members (Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook) who come from various parts of South Korea. I WAS LISTENING TO A KOREAN BOY BAND…and kinda liking it!

Naturally, I started wondering what was happening to me. (“Really, Tim? A boy band?”) My solace came in the realization that: (1) BTS launched in 2013 and has since rocketed to global stardom, so they must have some real musical chops and showmanship; and (2) Spotify was throwing random workout songs my way; I didn’t go looking for this one myself. Small comfort.

So, I guess this post is more of a confession than a “Friday Fun” spot. Either way, enjoy the song if you’d like. I’m going swimming.

Do I detect some choreographic allusions to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video in this dance routine?

Throwback Thursday: Is That Really Me? (Part 4)

All are invited to have a chuckle at my expense (for the fourth week in a row). This shot is from my sophomore year at West Virginia University. At a meet in Ohio at the end of the season, I swam 51 yards in a 50-yard race. Actually, I lunged at the wall as we always do to finish off a sprint, and I hyperextended my right arm. The timers had to pull me out of the water because I couldn’t get out myself. It was a little bit of embarrassment on top of a whole lot of pain. 

Fortunately, we were close to the Cleveland Clinic, which had a top-tier sports health center for which they were well known. They casted me up quickly, gave me some good pain meds, and minimized any damage to the ulnar nerve. My arm was numb, and I was out of commission for a few weeks. So much for swimming not being a contact sport.

Throwback Thursday: Is That Really Me? (Part 3)

All are invited to have a chuckle at my expense (for the third week in a row). This is my freshman year as a Reading High Red Knight, making me 14 or 15 years old at the time. Notice I’m breathing to the left in the top picture. In the bottom picture I’m just catching my breath after the race. I’m loving those twig-size arms. And the bug-eyed goggles. 🙂