Friday, January 27, 2006


The End of an Era...

When I was growing up in Williams Lake, I was a pool rat. I'd go to the pool almost every evening for public swim, usually with my sister Heather, and play. When we were younger, she and I would play "Statues" where one person climbs or is somehow suspended from the other person's body, and then they both hold it frozen like a statue. Aren't kids games great? As I entered the awkward double digits (I don't actually feel utterly recovered from the awkwardness [is this word really spelled "wkw"??] even to this day...) I started getting into springboard diving, copying Heather's tricks, teaching myself new stuff, and doing a somersault for the first time to impress the boys I was playing "follow the leader" with... around age 13,14,15, another patron started coming to the pool regularly, and he was an ex-competetive diver, who REALLY showed me cool things.. I can remember trying to do a "gainer" (aka reverse somersault) from the side of the pool, and getting a knee in my jaw and biting my tongue.. but I eventually got the hang of it.

At age 15, I spent a couple weekends in Kelowna getting certified to teach Diving, and as a Lifesaving Instructor (wooo, that Instructor-Trainer was pissed having me in her class - no WSI, no teaching experience, she actually had to cover all the stuff she'd normally gloss over...)... and the the most incredible thing about those two weekends was that my parents drove me down to Kelowna, booked me into a motel, and LEFT me there to attend the courses, feed myself, and not get into trouble. Can you imagine? I can't remember if I spent the whole week between the courses down there, but there was a definite period of time where my parents were in Williams Lake, and I was alone in Kelowna. Craaazy. Anywhoo... back to Williams Lake, and when school started in the fall, I got hired on at Sam Ketcham Memorial Pool to teach diving lessons afterschool. Spring Break, I got my WSI 1. At the end of June that summer, I got dropped off in Langley (okay, this time at least it was at a billet's house...) and took my NLS in a crash course at WC Blair Wave Pool. (side note: at the end of the course, the NLS Instructors were doing my final eval.. and pulled the "we can't decide whether to pass you or not..." schtick. Their reason? "You keep trying to tell everyone what to do..." Holy foreshadowing, batman....

17 years, 7 pools.. (Sam Ketcham, Ron Andrews, William Griffin, Karen Magnussen, Lonsdale aka Harry Jerome, Eileen Daily, and UBC Aquatic Centre).. and I'm done.

I don't intend to ever guard again. After being harrassed to such an extent while guarding, I don't feel secure on deck anymore. I don't feel capable of returning to the 99.9% focus I need, to feel competent on deck. (okay, so I notice attractive people.. and the annoying people too, unfortunately...).. so, I'm done. Done done. Poke me with a fork, I'm done.

BUT, there's a bit of a loophole.. I'm done with guarding, but I still intend to be involved in Aquatics.... playing polo, of course, but also continuing to teach Lifeguarding, which I am still passionate about, and working with the Pacific Dolphin Swim Association to host swim meets and special events... and getting in to enjoy the bliss of swimming/gliding/floating...

...and if I should happen to be swimming during a public swim at UBC, and have the opportunity to pass a certain nasty someone who swims slowly in the fast lane, I shall. No violence, no abuse, I'm not like her... but being faster than she is, WHILE USING A KICKBOARD, will give me a bit of pleasure.

Leaving UBC AC didn't feel real until today... actually, not until I had about 30 minutes left, and went to say goodbye to the swim team. Public speaking always makes me tense and red-faced, but this went beyond, as I formally acknowledged that I would no longer see these people on a daily basis, to pull their ropes and setup their flags and curse about their sloppy habits and enjoy listening to them tease each other and watch them get faster and get bigger and grow up to being amazing adults... These people were my favorite "regulars"... there might be a dozen lane swimmers that I'd see through the week that had gotten past my shyness to actually exchange smiles, nods, or even chitchat.. but the swim team kids have been... half of Everything.

The other half-of-everything that is UBC AC to me is the staff. With the exception of Katie, they are all full-time UBC students, and aside from the TownSchons and Dan (The Caped Crusader) Minster and a few others, they AREN'T lifers. Instead, these are people who have chosen to balance school with work, and to bring their general good cheer and happiness to the pool with them. The staff room at the pool (and the front desk, too) is usually packed with off-duty guards, who just like to hang out here. During any first-aid emergency, I've seen at least the same number of off-duty staff as there were on-duty, pitching in to help and make sure that the patron was okay, ambulance called, equipment fetched, pool guarded... Voluntarily.

I felt like these people understood me... as a person who likes her boundaries clear, concepts to be black and white, and who is blunt rather than a pussyfooter, I was accepted as a stern-but-fair, reasonable-once-you-let-her-calm-down, yells-at-us-for-the-right-reasons leader... and I am honoured. (if anyone cares to dispute this impression, feel free to use the comments link below to set me right!)

The messages they wrote to me, in giant booklet format, included thanking me for helping them with their strokes, their lessons, pool changeovers, life problems, feeling good about being built strong rather than dainty... and commenting on the weird and wonderful things I brought to the pool, like knitting, glass beads, and mad hooping skillz for all the staff I managed to infect!

Things I learned from the staff and swim team? Lessee...

  • Taking orders for a Starbucks run is a Good Thing.
  • So are Sleepovers. And having breakfast made for you.
  • It is easier to cope with an annoying patron if you can secretly snicker about their nickname while they are talking to you. ("ComplainO" and "Vasaline Lady" will forever remain in mind..)
  • Discussing unpleasant things is best done in private locations, at calmer times.
  • Practice makes perfect. Or at least a whole lot faster.
  • 5:30am is do-able. Even on a regular basis.
  • Team cheers make everyone feel good, especially with grunting involved. Or beaver sounds.
and... I have learned that aquatics is not a be-all and end-all thing. I have worked there through six years of staff graduating and moving on. Swimmers getting 'done' and moving on. Head Guards following dreams or ambitions and moving on. Now, its my turn.

I haven't heard back about the PT job I mentioned in my last post, and I'm okay with that. It's actually a good thing, to be shoved right into building the self-employed, self-driven life that I've dreamed of, and hopefully I'll continue to be the person who swims, rather than sinks. My plan from this point? Clean my room. Fill out claims paperwork. Do laundry. Set up hooping classes. Throw away the expired food in the fridge. Write and sell knitting patterns. Sew more, shop less. Promote myself. Stay fit. Maintain friendships. Survive, and do it well.

And... I have a lot to say about leaving behind the bliss of working beside Katie Trant, but that will have to wait for another day, it keeps making me weepy tonight.

Weather: cold, rainy, and I was dressed too skimpy for it.

Chai's: two... one on my lunch break, and one after the staff party where I received a $200 Starbucks gift card... Katie knows me sooo well, cause one of the hardest things to face, on a daily basis, was the idea of not being able to truly afford treating myself to a chai.

Water: baths and a bit of pool time during setup for the swim meet that started tonight (I have learned to love the False Start Rope), and a bit of leg-work and jumping, as I have been tagged as the main replacement goalie for our team heading to Seattle. Eek! I play hole, not goal! Ah well, cross fingers that I stop the shots with my hands, not my face!

Wardrobe: my idea of comfy-dressy, which is bare legs, flipflops (now off), a black knit tank top and a pull-on black skirt (actually used to be Katie's, when she used to be my size..) Nice, casual.. oh, and my hair is up in two little braided bun thingys, which I like but am paranoid will date me as much as the teased-and-sprayed bangs date women who are about six years older than I am...

Craft in progress: Wow. A blank. Haven't had anything going on in the last couple days, been more about paperwork and starting schedule calendars and stuff... still haven't finished that sweater, so that will prob be the repeat thing I finish, unless I jump onto re-knitting a cable-star hat that I designed for swim coach Derrick's baby.. loved the pattern, hope it will sell :) Hey! I can call it Maya's Hat...

Well, I've said my piece about leaving behind the bliss of you (or being left behind, as it were . . .) and it made me weepy writing it, but amazingly I got through the speech alright.

I'm waiting for that other day :)
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?