The Little Team That Could

Are we born competitors or are we made into competitors? In swimming, the answer may be 6 ounces of one and half a cup of another (okay, that's a flawed fluid analogy). But I digress. What I really want to say is that I witnessed the birth (or rebirth) of at least eight competitors during the recent Polar Bear meet hosted by Ford Aquatics in Tucson. This is the short story of "the little team that could."

Every Monday through Friday at 9 a.m. at what is arguably the most beautiful outdoor pool in Arizona, about 15 or so members of Ventana Canyon Masters Swim Team slip into their element and out of their comfort zones for a coached one-hour workout. With Tucson's magnificent Catalina Mountains egging them on, they comply with their coach's commands with scarcely a complaint. They've been following the routine for years, these swimmers of every ability, getting stronger and faster along the way. And yet, as a team, they'd never entered a Masters meet before. Why? Nobody had ever asked them to.

The Polar Bear meet last weekend changed all that. Eight Ventana Canyon Masters members entered the meet and double that number of teammates and supporters turned out to cheer them on (secretly scoping out the scene for a possible future plunge). Donning their bright pink caps, this spirit-filled team brightened the pool deck that chilly morning and throughout the sunny afternoon, racking up a sizeable number of points along the way. Apprehensive before the meet (What if I'm the slowest one? What if I can't pull myself out of the pool? What if I lose my goggles off the block?), their own times surprised them. The experience emboldened them. In the end, the waterlogged crew divvied up and swam four relays--back to back. (Even the other relay of 20-somethings was impressed by that.) Where were the other competitors? Rushing home to the SuperBowl, no doubt. But not these ladies (and one gent) in pink (he refused the pink). They stayed right through to the end!

The moral of this story is: No matter what kind of swimmer you are, novice to accomplished, if you hook up with the right team and the right coach, there is no end to what you can achieve. All you need to do is to surround yourself with a group that provides mutual encouragement and support, put in the effort, and take a few risks. Regardless of your times in the pool, you can always measure your results in fitness and friendships. That's what Masters Swimming is all about. See you in the pool. --June Hussey, Editor, Swim Arizona

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