A Young Man's Thoughts On Quitting Swimming

A Young Man's Thoughts On Quitting Swimming

Not another yard.

I'm a swimmer.

That four syllable phrase may not mean anything to a lot of people, but for the past 16 years, it's been a pillar of my identity. Love it or hate it, I have continually defined myself as a denizen of the pool for a variety of reasons. And as of yesterday, Sunday, Feb. 21, I will never do it ever again.

And that's not a bad thing, necessarily.

Coming up, I was never really that great at swimming, mainly because I was never really that great at anything. I was a weird, introverted kid, and swimming was just a nice after-school activity my mother signed me up for because she was worried my father's obsession with all things nautical would get me dumped into the waters of the Puget Sound one day. But as time went on and my family relocated to Portland, I began to appreciate that swimming could be okay.

From just after school until 7 p.m. every night (and often on mornings and Saturdays), I would be around people who were just a little bit like me. The one negative aspect of swimming is also it's greatest virtue: swimming is a low-impact sport. Coaches don't feel that bad about putting bodies in the water for five hours a day if the need arises because, in theory, you can't hurt yourself that badly swimming. So during the summer, when school won't get in the way, a swim team becomes a circle of homogeneous zombies who are at pools more than they are away from them.

Put simply, swimmers have no lives, because we don't have the time. Don't get me wrong, it's still a privilege to have idle time for athletics (especially for a water sport in a drought), but that doesn't negate the amount of time every day swimmers spend in the pool.

When I came to college in Southern California, I had the swim team billed to me as a "built-in group of friends." Now, having a ton of friends, that sounded pretty awesome to me. And for the most part, it is.

If you see any of the 70-odd people who routinely wear PPS&D gear around campus, be aware that we know or have known every other person who wears that gear just as well as you know your closest friends. We have bathed in the same purifying flames, inside and outside the pool. We've seen each other at our highest, but more importantly, at our lowest.

I'm not sure if I have the same sort of passion writing on swimming from the athletic side, simply because I don't know if constant competition is good for me personally. I notice myself getting more aggressive, quicker to anger, and less empathetic during the peak of the season. Yes, I did get a little better because of the passion I was swept up in, but I'm not my favorite guy when I'm surrounded by that much testosterone. It's one aspect of sports that I'll be glad to get out of my life.

And yet, I don't want to let that undercut the core message here; I will miss the team once swimming wraps up and I head back to the ranch. There's something different about a college team who undertakes this commitment together, especially at a D3 level. The team comes together, binds over the suffering of our completely optional sport, like some ridiculous Dantean scrum.

And while this stupid thing complicates personal and professional relationships and gives a healthy middle finger to petty things like "time management" or "mental health," no one has the time or inclination to ask, "Why the fuck do we do this colossal time suck?"

I still don't know if I have a personal answer to that question at the moment. I know that minor injuries incurred in the sport will accompany my now borderline asthma for a long while yet. And I know that Swim and Dive teams will continue to lure young people into commitments that will challenge their sanity and force them to choose between the things they love and a sport they share nothing but a long personal history with.

And yet, all things considered, swimming's been good to me. I've made friends I intend to keep, and I've learned things I will not forget.

But now, I'm done.

Cover Image Credit: Jenna Haufler

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.


To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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Andy Ruiz Jr. May Not Look Like The Typical Boxer, But It Doesn't Make His Victory Any Less Deserved

Andy Ruiz Jr. just proved that dreams can come true.


On June 1, boxing fans witnessed something special as Andy 'Destroyer' Ruiz Jr. defeated Anthony Joshua via TKO after going seven rounds in the ring at Madison Square Garden in New York City to become the first ever Mexican-American heavyweight champion of the world. Ruiz Jr. (33-1) was a heavy underdog (+1100) heading into the match-up with Joshua (22-1) but ultimately flipped the script to hand the British fighter his first professional loss ever. Surely the fight will go down as one of the greatest moments in sports history.

Some members of the media and fans have been quick to label the fight as a 'fluke' and 'rigged' which in the end is no surprise to me. That always happens in the sports world. Many did not believe we would get this result yet failed to remember the one rule of sports -- expect the unexpected. Over the past week, I've been coming to the defense of Ruiz Jr. in the wake of others choosing to call him a joke.

I was shocked and surprised to hear two of my favorite sports analysts, Stephen A. Smith and Shannon Sharpe, make fun of Ruiz Jr. and frame him as just a guy that looked like 'Butterbean.' When I viewed their tweets on social media it honestly made me upset. Sure, Ruiz Jr. may not have fit the mold of what a professional boxer should look like, but they simply should not have just judged a book by its cover.

Personally, I thought it was disrespectful for Smith and Sharpe to throw shade at Ruiz Jr. in the way they did. I felt like they should have done a better job of acknowledging the winner considering the result of the match. Yet choosing to bash someone because of their physical composition appeared like a low blow. The very foundation of sports allows people of all shapes, sizes, genders, races, and backgrounds to compete -- that's why most people follow them in the first place.

Smith was open behind his reasoning for his tweets in which I'd like to shed some light on. Smith was upset about how boxing time after time contains elements of corruption with fans having to wait years until promoters schedule big fights. He along with other followers of the sport were looking forward to the highly anticipated yet potential future match-up between Joshua and fellow heavyweight Deontay Wilder. Smith believes that by Ruiz Jr. beating Joshua it essentially diminished the chances of that fight ever happening with the same amount of buildup, but that still doesn't provide any excuse for mocking the new heavyweight champ.

Ruiz Jr. was there for a reason and ultimately seized the opportunity that was right in front of him -- that's not his fault for getting the job done. Just because someone doesn't look like the part doesn't mean they don't possess the same qualities and characteristics as their counterparts. The following pair of videos display the amount of talent Ruiz Jr. does have in the ring. Even fellow boxer Canelo Alvarez and former UFC lightweight/featherweight champion Conor McGregor acknowledge that and have come out to say something on their behalf.

Unfortunately, I don't expect much to change because most will stand their ground and continue to behave the same way. All I'm saying is I did not enjoy some of the top figures within sports media stereotyping Ruiz Jr. based on his looks. I would think that we would be better than that and recognize that anyone can accomplish something great in this world. It all just starts with a simple dream.

I understand and respect other people's takes on this subject, maybe I'm looking into things deeper than what they are, but it struck a chord with me and I felt the need to say something about it.

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