Saturday, August 20, 2016
So, it was my first day back at the pool this Summer. June 2. I had great anticipation upon getting back in the water. What would this year look like, I wondered. How many laps would I manage, especially after a long winter. It was a beautiful day. I think I eeked out 36 laps, which was good. They were not done all at once but over the course of the afternoon. 4:15ish rolled around and I decided to head out. As I was leaving, I was met with, what felt like a swarm of yellow bathing caps. I looked around and saw many young teenagers, many. I asked a woman who had been speaking with one of the adults, who were all these kids??? THE SWIM TEAM, she replied. I was in formed that they would be there everyday, like clockwork at 4:15PM, stay until 6PM, Monday- Thursday, that they were taking 4 of the 6 lanes, and that the adults would have to 'share'. I left feeling, well, annoyed would be the correct word. I remembered last Summer, at the end of the season, around now, when school started, that THE SWIM TEAM invaded the pool. It/they felt very invasive.
As the evening progressed, and I was processing this information, I started to get mad. The woman I spoke with earlier was very matter of fact...'The adults will have to share 2 lanes!!!'. I lost sleep that night, and first thing the next morning, I called the Corporate Office. This phone call was on the heels of the Stanford swimmer who had been on trial for rape. He was/is the fruit of the 'entitled' sportsperson, be it swimming, football, baseball, golf, soccer, etc. We have seen it in many different venues, college and professional. I explained to the nice man I was speaking with that it seemed rather unfair that people, adults, who work hard, get off of work around 4 or 5pm, who have paid their monthly fees, should find themselves at the pool, looking forward to a quiet, therapeutic swim, only to realize that they would have to share a lane (they are not very wide, and you know, I am tiny, sooooo...) with another adult. Could there be a compromise, maybe the kids could have 3 lanes and the adults 3 lanes. I went on to say to him that they were sending these kids the wrong message!!! We are here, so you have to leave, period. And as they progress in life, to the next swim team or the next sport, we are here, I am here, so you have to leave. Entitled. It is an ugly word. Wrong wrong wrong. (Do not misunderstand me, I am all for organized sports. I grew up playing organized sports.) He told me that I sounded very passionate about swimming and that he would get in touch with aquatic director. I thanked him, wished the SWIM TEAM well, and we said our good-byes.
A few days later, I received a call from the very young sounding aquatic director. I repeated my concerns about sending these kids the wrong message, that it was also wrong that they thought it was okay for two, 200 pound men, or two, 150 pound women to share a lane, after having worked hard all day, etc. I was met with a wall. Seriously, as if I were speaking to a wall. She did her utmost to make my every word invalid, that it was perfectly fine for adults to share lanes. She did not ask me one question about myself. Clearly there was not going to be any sort of compromise. THE SWIM TEAM had the pool.
I had to regroup. THE SWIM TEAM had won the battle. I decided, the best thing for me would be to go earlier in the day, and leave around 4pm. What was interesting as well, that every time I checked in, for about the first 3 or 4 weeks, I was met with a friendly face, which immediately, once my name came up on the screen, changed. It was palpable. I was determined, and frankly, did not care one way or another if there was a red flag next to my name. I simply wanted to swim. Which is exactly what I have done this summer. Hundreds upon hundreds of laps. I remained sunshiny and polite, and I have met some wonderful people at the pool. I have received some unexpected compliments along the way. I have not seen one yellow bathing cap, I have not crossed paths with THE SWIM TEAM since that first day, June 2. My plan worked.
So, in light of what we have just witnessed at the Olympics, with the bad behavior of a few entitled members of THE SWIM TEAM taking over headlines (the Media is a whole other post, which will probably never be written here), this is what I have learned at the pool this summer. I had never witnessed 'entitled' first hand until my short, but somewhat profound encounter with THE SWIM TEAM on June 2. It is up to the ADULTS to teach our children, and the children in our charge, starting at a very young age, that it is NOT OKAY to push anyone aside because you have arrived, that it is NOT OKAY to think that you are better than anyone because you belong to a team, that it is NOT OKAY even if you have won Gold Medals at the Olympics or if you are on the Stanford SWIM TEAM to be anything other than a kind, compassionate, empathetic, human being. I think, I pray, that the children I encountered were young enough, that here is hope that they will not believe the terrible lie and that 'entitled' will never be a part of their vocabulary, even if the word itself is never spoken.
I have 2 full weeks left before the outdoor pool closes. I have had a great great time at the pool this summer, and, in a way, I feel very much like I WON THE WAR!!