When I was about 8 years old my dad made me join a swimming team. “You need to learn how to swim”, he declared. I guess he was tired of me whining at the pool about not wanting to put my head under water. That plus I swam like a rock and that just wasn’t acceptable.
Through my kicking and screaming that I didn’t want to join the team, dad insisted and both my sister and I found ourselves in the pool every day after school and on weekends practicing.
What transpired was amazing, as it turned out my swimming career became something to talk about. My several year career earned me several AAU records that were untouchable for a long time.
In those days they didn’t have scholarships for swimmers, especially girls. So my claim to fame got me a job as a swimming instructor at the local YMCA. More stories on that chapter of my life later.
In the meantime, the local sport’s section of the Dayton Daily News would be on the lookout for weekend records touched or broken by its too-tall for her age, skinny, local star, Joyce Appenzeller.
The story they got the most kick out of was when we traveled to an Ohio college town for one of those competitions that meant a lot to the team’s standings for qualifying for the bigger meet to come later in the year.
I really didn’t care too much about points and stuff. I swam because my dad told me to. His insistence that I be competent enough to save my life was his main concern.
For me swimming was a painful experience. I was so darn shy; not like sister. She was 2 years older and had lots of confidence. She was pretty, shapely and okay, not as good as a swimmer as me but still pretty darn good. Her nickname was Miss Popularity; mine was Bashful.
The morning of any swim meet seemed unorganized and frantic despite all the planning and organizing that went into it. That Saturday was unlike any others which made for gathering of a bunch of swimmers, putting all their stuff into the car, grabbing a few more donuts and then off to the pool.
The car, filled with giggly girls arrived and prompted dumped us out to scramble for a few minutes to practice before the official meet start.
Lockers clambering, duffle bags stuffing with overflow street clothes, goggles, nose clamps, caps – all there, suit…suit…suit…where’s my suit? I can’t find my bathing suit! Where’s my bathing suit.
Of course the obvious was to blame my sister for another one of her practical jokes but this time she looked me straight in the face and said sternly, “I do not have your bathing suit”. Mommmm!
Now all good moms worry and my mom was the champion of worrying. And my dad, well, he was the calmer of the two and after several straight talks they both decided to head back to the motel and scour all corners to find my suit.
The clock was ticking for me to show up at the starting blocks. My parents had not returned. The other swimmers pitched in search for my suit but none to be found.
Meanwhile, mom and dad tore the room apart while the coach bit his nails and the other kids glared at me for being so stupid.
When my parents returned to the pool suit less, they noted that I was in the pool. Of course they surmised that I borrowed a suit but when we finally caught up with each other my sheepish grin told them otherwise.
I had forgotten that I had my suit on the whole time under my clothes. Yep! I guess I didn’t discover it until I had to go to the bathroom and, well, you get the picture.
Moral of the story is if I had followed your mom’s rule, always check your underwear because you never know when you‘ll have to explain why yours had holes in them so wear your best, I guess at age 8, I figured my bathing suit was my best!
Excerpts from Throwback Life - My Stories I credit for Who I Am