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Growing Up

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Altruistic Swimming

It's no secret that I love the sport of swimming: the camaraderie of teammates, the way a body moves through the water, the envelope of silence that descends when I dive in. It's a joy when swimming converges with altruism and people who work on behalf of others, as with my friend Nicole Vanderpoel and her committee working on Swim Across America - Denver, which raises money for cancer research and trials with Children's Hospital.  Another example springs from my Masters' teammate Liz Herr, who works with a swim team in a poor area of Nicaragua, sponsoring children on the Nica Nadadores, who would otherwise not be able to train and travel.

In her latest email update, Liz writes:
"As you know, the Nica Nadadores swimmers live in one of the most impoverished areas in Nicaragua, the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. In communities where most people don’t bother to dream anymore these kids do have dreams and they work very hard in the hope they can make those dreams come true. "

Our CAC Masters team sponsors five Nica swimmers and Liz and her husband sponsor another individual. The support helps pay for pool time, supplies, and travel expenses. The kids have even been able to come to the United States to compete, and their world has opened far beyond Nicaragua. We share a bond with them -- our love of the sport -- and it's a joy to pave the road as they follow their dreams.

I also belong to a Swim Coaches Idea Exchange on Facebook (each time I want to quit Facebook, a group like this pops up and makes me hold on for another week). Yesterday a coach posted to ask if we could help swimmers and coaches in the area affected by the Camp Fire in northern California. A Chico coach responded that they were OK, the fire had not invaded Chico, but the summer team in Paradise was probably affected. No one can get into that area yet to determine the status or need, but he will keep us posted.

My swim community provides vital connections to the world, to swimmers, coaches, and problems / solutions crucial to other teams in other places. I tell Aden and William that community is the reason for swimming, that working hard and getting results are secondary to bonds formed from shared experience and passion for a common effort. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of other ways to connect but this is mine, and the greatest joy of all is that swimming has become theirs, too.

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