I found the box of my old swim suits down in the basement yesterday. It was labeled “Prom Dresses, Letterman’s Sweater and Old Swim Suits.” The dresses, mostly homemade (by me) brought back floods of memories, but the suits, faded and worn, told a story that spanned 12 years of my life. I joined the Reedley Marlins Swim Team when I was 7 years old. Mom had taken us to the old Reedley Pool every day every summer when we were kids. Joining the swim team was a given.
When I was 8 years old, I set a Valley record in the 25 yard backstroke. 18.9 seconds. That record stood for 11 years! That was the start of it. I swam my heart out year after year, setting a dozen or so Valley and high school records. My best events were backstroke and freestyle and butterfly sprints. I was awarded as a All-American swimmer when I was a junior in high school.
I also swam for State Center Swim Club and CHAOS Swim Club, competing in many Junior Olympic swim meets, and in high school I was the only girl and starting sprinter on the boy’s varsity waterpolo team. I loved the water and I loved sprinting through it.
Above are my beloved swim suits. The red white and blue one was my first team suit. The sun tanned my skin through the white stripes and I looked like a little zebra when I undressed. The green and gold suit was our team suit when I was 9-10 years old. The blue and pink was worn when I was 13-14 years old.
The Green suit was our Reedley High team suit. I wore it and the blue one 4 years, until they were worn to shreds. When they were too thin and the seams tore, I stitched them back up. When the stitching up gave way, I wore these old suits over newer ones when I played waterpolo. We always wore more than one suit because opponents often held on to your suit to try to keep you from breaking away in a sprint for the ball. If you only had one suit on, you might leave it behind. Below are the back sides of those torn suits.
The orange and blue & green suits were Lycra suits. Those suits were worn only for swim meets because the fabric didn’t hold up for more than a year. The older they got, the looser they got.
The blue suits were also worn during my high school years. The straps in the back crossed on these suits. It was the latest and greatest technology at the time. The last blue suit was my beloved Belgrade, the finest suit I ever had.
So there you have it. 12 years of competitive swim suits. Those suits went 2-3 miles a day for all those years. They held up pretty well. They were like my second skin. They still have a faint smell of chlorine that makes me smile as I try to remember what it felt like when those suits were new, before they faded, and my body was sleek and strong and very fast.