Swim

This I know for sure: I have two real passions in life. Swimming came first, and cooking came second. And since swimming came first, it deserves a page all its own.

I first started swimming at age six  for our local country club. At such a young age, I was undoubtedly encouraged into the water by my parents. However, I do have a memory of them asking me, “Sami, do you want to swim this summer?” They’ve never been forceful parents, always letting me have a say.

After a summer or two of “baby swimming,” I chose to end swimming for soccer. At that age, more of my friends were playing soccer, and I enjoyed the field more than the water. My dad was also always my assistant coach, one of my favorite childhood memories. Soccer brought me and my ultra-busy dad together, so I definitely preferred it to the pool.

Then, at age nine, I received two letters in the mail asking me to join different area swim teams. I felt like the most popular girl in school. :) After a little debate, I chose to join the team led by my favorite coach, WTY. During my first couple years of swimming, I saw insane results. My times improved every meet and I made close friendships with the team. More impressively, I broke many of our team’s former records for girls of my age. I began to consider my pool to be my second primary home.

I aged up to the eleven-twelve girls group and continued to improve, only then more slowly. As I became a more serious swimmer, I definitely planned to go to college with a swimming scholarship. I even vocally pondered the option of going to the Olympics. My family and I took trips to San Francisco and Destin to improve my technique and increase my strength in the water. I loved every minute of it. My family was very supportive, Mom cooked dinner after practice, at 10 pm, and Dad came to all of my meets and recorded my best times in his Palm Pilot.

During the summer before my seventh grade year, some major changes took place in my life. Although still in the same neighborhood, I moved to a different home. I left my utopian  private school for the reality of public school. I also began to severely struggle with my eating habits. Despite my healthy body, my goal changed from healthy eating to losing weight. At the time, I viewed my strong, muscular physique as “fat.”

Consequently, my weight  plummeted, and over the course of two years, I slowly dropped thirty pounds. I refused to eat most foods and became afraid of eating regular portions. Thus, my once highly competitive swimming status altered to a slow, tired stroke. I could no longer improve my times, and swimming became extremely difficult for me. The same summer, my older role models began to leave town for college.

I left my team when I was thirteen and took a break from racing for a year. Ever since, I’ve taken an entirely new approach to the pool. Now I swim for multiple small teams during odd seasons of the year. I’ve swam for three country clubs, two USA teams, and one high school team. In addition, I’ve practice with teams in Hawaii, Washington, and Wyoming while on vacation. When I’m not swimming for a team, I love to swim on my own.

Although I’ve never been as fast as I was when I was younger, I’m still a great swimmer. I love everything about the sport. The strongest friendships are built around the most painful practices. Physically, no other activity produces results as quickly for me. If you’re wondering about my weight, I’m still working to achieve my healthiest point. Thankfully though, through the most challenging parts of my adolescence I’ve always been able to find a pool. I now call swimming, “my therapy.”

I swim third in this race and I’m wearing a black and red suit with a white cap. It’s a 200 meter, freestyle relay. June 23, 2010.

This video is all me! I get second place every time, but at least you can see me swim. :D Also June 23, 2010.

Comments
33 Responses to “Swim”
  1. Hillary says:

    This is a great story, and well written too. I can relate, as I swam competitively for 6 years. Junior year I switched my focus to running, and now the road/trails are “my therapy”. I wish you lots of health and happiness…

  2. Peggy says:

    Hello,
    Perfect Sami, Nice…very nice…
    A. Peggy

  3. Patti Green says:

    I love what you are doing.

  4. Claire says:

    Fantastically written, your blog looks wonderful. Well done in relation to the eating disorder, I too have struggled with one and I found (oddly enough) that time spent in the kitchen helped me a great deal. I wish you success with the blog and good health.

  5. Dana says:

    Very nicely written. You are such an interesting character which I enjoy learning more about each week. Take Care. Dana

  6. The way you talk about swimming perfectly describes how I feel about it…I’ve been swimming since I was very young, too! So many people don’t give swimming enough credit – it’s nice read about someone who has a passion for swimming :) Can’t wait to read more of your blog!

  7. mom says:

    Just watching you do what you love makes me smile…

  8. hey girl! i grew up swimming too. i swam for the most “prestigeous,” i guess, swim team in my area. i loved it, swam hard, got injured, burnt out, and just am starting to do it again, for fitness and for love!

    keep it up, and don’t worry about how fast you are. swimming is an incredible gift because it reminds us how powerful and graceful we are. it’s where we can melt into the lane and just… be.

    looking forward to reading more!
    -rebekah

  9. Carolyn says:

    Hey there… I was, no am, a swimmer. I started at age 7 swimming summers for the YMCA, then became really competitive at age 11-15. I peaked at 15. After that, all my friends/team mates, were graduating high school so my winning relay team broke up. It was hard in high school swimming missing my buddies and not being motivated by the faster swimmers I grew up with.

    I put down swimming after I graduated high school. I tried to join a master’s team in college, but the thought of getting up at 6 am in college didn’t last long.

    I met my now husband 2.5 years ago. He is a swimmer also. He swam in college! He got me back in the pool after so many years out. I picked up right where I started. I now swim for a master’s team – one that is pretty low key and compete in triathlons and open water races. I won my age group for a mile open water swim last month. I love swimming. It is the best therapy as you say. Once a swimmer, always a swimmer.

    Keep on keepin’ on… being a teen is hard, but it really is the best days of your life! Enjoy it!

    Be well,
    Carolyn

  10. PopSmarts says:

    Love that you went from food issues to foodie. Congrats and keep on workin’!

  11. raisingable says:

    I hope your experience can help other young people with eating disorders.

  12. Stephanie says:

    Hi Sami! I’m a swimmer too, and you have beautiful strokes. Just curious though… what are some of your times in your best races? You look pretty fast :)

  13. citygreens says:

    Hey! this is kinda lame of me but I’m totally excited to have found another swimmer/ food blogger! I feel like in the food blog world everyone’s all about running and I totally can’t relate! hahah. I swam all my life and I’m on my college varsity team right now. Hope you stick with it!

  14. 14yearoldvegan says:

    Hahah oh my god! I swim too :) When i was 7 i was veryvery speedy.. i was swimming with the 18 year olds! My season starts this friday.. wish me luck! And geez girl, your fastt!

  15. Linda James says:

    Your story resambles mine, except the fact that I gave up swimming 2 years ago because of some health issues. Good luck in the future.

  16. I just started competitive swimming this year, for my high school (I am a sophomore). I LOVE it!! I love being in the water. I don’t even know how to do the butterfly yet, but I’m not really swimming in order to be better than people. I know some of the people we compete with swim year-round and are completely dedicated to the sport. I’m just trying to improve my freestyle stroke and swimming endurance so that I can do a triathlon sometime this year.
    I swam all the time in 5th and 6th grade because we lived near a pool and it always warm, but then we moved to North Carolina and I didn’t swim regularly for a good 3 years or so.

  17. heyyy girlie (or shall i say fellow swimmer!!!)
    it’s my first time on your site and i love it!!! I’m pretty sure that with a love for swimming comes a love for FOOD :)
    check out my blog, its where the athlete and the girl come together. i think you’ll like it being a swimmer!!! xxo em

  18. Claire says:

    Just a question, but what happens to your blog name when you’re no longer a teenager?

  19. Sami says:

    My name is Sami too! :) awesome! I love love love love love competitive swimming (I’m 14) but I have a problem. I’m homeschooled. I don’t have a high school swim team to swim on, and all of my friends are swimming for high school. I’m wondering if all of my competition will be gone? They’ll all be swimming for high school! Any suggestions/tips/knowledge/advice?
    Thanks Sami!

    • Hey! Swimming doesn’t have to be through your high school to be competitive. Where I’m from, USA Swimming (Club Teams) are actually more competitive and more respected. If you have club teams where you live, I’d highly recommend joining one. I made my best friends on my swim team, so definitely join a group!

      Best, Sami

      Samantha Rivard University of Virginia 2015 Second Year Council, Dinner Series 859 319-5696

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