Day in the life: Sinking, not swimming

Carmen Vescia, Managing Editor

As I stepped on the pool deck with goggles in hand, wearing a suffocating one-piece and a swim cap so tight I already had a headache, two thoughts popped into my head.

1. Wow, I’m pale.

2. Wow, I’m weak.

I surveyed the gaggle of tan, muscular, smiling girls that surrounded me and suddenly felt very under prepared. My stomach churned with nerves. I can stay afloat, but I’m not a strong swimmer, and I hadn’t exercised for more than about 10 minutes straight all summer.

Soon enough, however, my worries were interrupted as the girls around me all began jumping into the pool like lemmings, and I plunged in after them.

I quickly found my place in lane one, or in other words, the slow lane. It didn’t take me much time for me to deduce that I was both the slowest swimmer in the entire pool and the only one who couldn’t manage to swim in a straight line.

After what seemed like an hour, but was actually 15 minutes, we grabbed our kick boards. I breathed a sigh of relief as I imagined lazily kicking across pool, as I was already winded and had swallowed a gallon of pool water, but I was in for a rude awakening. We alternated laps of swimming and furiously kicking  with our kick boards, turning the normally clear pool into froth, which I unfortunately kept drinking.

Although I suspected that I was experiencing what death by exhaustion felt like during various moments in the workout, the encouragements and tips from the team kept me afloat, both emotionally and physically. I was expecting to meet a team of tough, no nonsense girls who wouldn’t hesitate to push me under the water if I got in their way–I’ve always been told that water polo is a notoriously brutal sport–but they couldn’t have been nicer.

After our laps while we treaded water, I asked a girl if and when we would get a break. To my dismay, she informed me that treading water was our break. Thank goodness the water in the pool helped camouflage my tears.

Finally, it was time to bring out the water polo balls and get down to business. We practiced catching (or dropping in my case), throwing, shooting at the goalie and dribbling, or pushing the ball along as we swam. This was definitely my favorite part.

As practice drew to a close, it was time for one final exercise:eggbeater kicking while trying to simultaneously push your partner backwards and stand your ground as she pushes back. At first I misunderstood and thought that we were trying to drown each other. Needless to say, I was somewhat terrified. Thankfully, I was wrong, and I came out of the practice alive, although limp and exhausted.

When I declared that practice was ‘really hard and very tiring,’ I was kindly informed that I had just experienced an ‘easy’ practice. This just goes to show how much dedication and physical ability water polo takes. These players practically spend more time in the pool than out of it, sometimes waking up early to make a morning practice in addition to the two hours after school. Water polo is definitely one of the most physically demanding sports I have ever attempted, and my respect for those who dare play it is enormous. I can’t even begin to imagine repeating my grueling experience at practice five days a week for an entire season.

Thank you, Sequoia water polo for inviting me to join your elite ranks for a day, but if you need me, I’ll be on my couch watching “The Bachelorette,” where I belong. I think it’s best that I leave the pool to you.