Amanda Beard and lessons for young women?

9 Apr

So says this article.

Amanda Beard was my swimming hero growing up.  For as long as I was in swimming, she was the top of my best event.  What she went through with isn’t completely unheard of in swimming, but it’s just so surprising to be reminded that it can happen to anyone, even if you’re at the top.

I don’t normally like to read comments sections, but (trigger warning in the link) Jezebel’s article on Amanda Beard‘s book has some interesting comments, from trigger warnings to the nature of swimming and how the timing of swim careers with body’s natural development make for a complicated relationship with the sport.  I’m reminded of my mom’s genuine concern with my “compulsion” to swim and make it to practice, of my shared laments that “normal people” just don’t seem to understand it’s more than a sport.  Looking back now, after some time away from it, I still remember how emotional it is, but I’m still not sure what to make of it all – whether it was  completely justified or not.  I learned a lot of lessons and my character is largely shaped by the whole experience, but still I’m not sure if I would put my own kids through the same.


4 Responses to “Amanda Beard and lessons for young women?”

  1. nervrom July 30, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    I think about this all the time. Swimming was such a huge part of my life and I credit it as shaping me in a really strong way, despite it feeling like decades ago (I guess it was almost a decade ago). As with any experience, I tend to romanticize the goodness of it all and forget the bad, but even last night I was asking myself, when did I ever look forward to going to practice? As soon as I finished that thought I was reminded of all the laughs, that feeling of finishing a hard set (and doing it WELL) and the unmistakeable camaraderie in misery (if nothing else). But I still remember that ridiculous dread I’d feel every day when the last school bell rang on a Monday morning (having already completed a morning practice), knowing i had NINE MORE PRACTICES until my most favourite moment of the week (Saturday morning at 830 am). I remember being jealous when someone would miss a practice, (and i used to HATE YOU FOR NOT SHOWING UP AND THEN KICKING MY ASS WHEN YOU DID). …. I didn’t ever hate you, but you know what i mean.

    When i think about it more…when did I ever enjoy going to a meet? I used to dread weekend meets, and sometimes I felt downright robbed of my youth. To this day, nothing has ever. EVER. EVER! given me the same satisfaction as achieving a goal in the pool… but on the same hand I can consciously remember a few times not really “trying” just so I didn’t have to come back to the pool that night for Finals. I remember getting blood tests done because i was “feeling tired” and LITERALLY PRAYING that I had mono. Once, I applied mascara to my ankle to make it look bruised in an attempt to convince my mother I had sprained my ankle. I remember my dad never letting me skip a practice unless he literally saw me vomit. And even then, he would check in all day to see if I could make it to practice that night.

    “…’normal people’ just don’t seem to understand it’s more than a sport.'” – this. this. this. I have nothing really to add here, I just totally, whole-heartedly know what you’re saying here. I’m having a hard time articulating my actual thoughts on this whole topic. Because I credit a lot of my life and my values and understandings to the time I spent in and around the pool and the coaches and my teammates, but at the end of the day, I don’t even know if my heart was ever actually in it. That fact really scares me, actually. Because in retrospect I wonder if the only reason I did it is because I had people telling me I was good at it.

    • nervrom July 30, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

      And to add, people telling me I’d be “stupid” to quit. And when I did quit (after moving to London to go to UWO where I didn’t last two weeks… I guess the writing was on the wall). I remember returning to the pool in trenton to lots of parents of swimmers telling me “I heard you did something stupid…”

      • Sunny August 2, 2012 at 1:06 am #

        BAH. no place at all to say that! there are so many different expectations all tied up in swimming from so many different sources, that it almost becomes impossible for you to know why you’re doing it. i think that’s a big part of the weird conflicting feelings that come with it.

    • Sunny August 2, 2012 at 1:04 am #

      when jackie broke her wrist and had to miss a swim meet, i asked her if she needed to have any needles when she broke it.

      i was considering if it was worth it to break a bone so i could also skip a swim meet guilt-free. but i was also very scared of needles.

      ugh i know what you mean about the unique satisfaction of getting a goal in the pool. yet hating it so much sometimes. maybe that’s what makes it so satisfying when we would finally get the goals.

      i wish i had been more into swimming when i was growing up. i spent most of university trying to make up for it because i felt like i had wasted it.

      so many conflicting feelings about swimming. but in the end i’m really glad i went through it. although, i’m not sure if i would want my own kids to do it too. strange.

Whutchu sayin'

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