Saturday, March 19, 2016

#8 - Swimming at Cincinnati (The Year of 52)

From the age of 5 I've loved water. I do liquid only though, no frozen water. Therefore, no snow skiing, no ice skating. I'm sure with some practice I could learn but frankly I'm just not that good at it. I usually just fall and slide. It's not pretty. The result is probably due to the fact that during swim seasons I didn't dare get on frozen water for fear of breaking something and ruining the season.

In the pool is where I've always felt at home.

I remember at the age of 12 saying to my parents at the dinner table: "I'm going to get a scholarship to swim in college." It became a goal, probably an obsession - which might have been a bit unhealthy at times.

I made my college decision based purely on the scholarship offer. That I now know what not a healthy choice. Not that I regret my choice, it's just not what I advocated for my children nor others when I'm asked.

Eastern Kentucky came calling, my parent's alma mater, but no scholarship. Missouri flew me out for a weekend, but no scholarship. A few tenths of a second too slow. Mt. Union's President called, seeing that I was planning to go to Seminary and be a United Methodist Pastor. He tried to convince me going to a United Methodist School would be the best thing I could do. I visited Ohio Northern, where my son now attends and swims, but it definitely was not for me. Sad that it's the same pool today as it was then!

Then the week before High School Sectionals, my team from Anderson went down to Cincinnati to practice. Coach Frank Busch and Coach Tom Keefe were on hand. Pulling me out to talk, they were encouraging and wanted me to come for a visit after the State Meet. I did that, was offered a scholarship and that made my decision. Done.

I swam for two years, until my left shoulder gave out. With a torn muscle and a sublexating shoulder, swimming was over. I chose not to go through surgery at that point with a goal to re-enter the pool. I rehabed for two years trying to avoid surgery, but finally went under the knife in 1986.

I wouldn't recommend my decision making grid for college. But for me, college was merely a formality for getting to Seminary, so I didn't much care where I went. College wasn't my final destination. I'm not sad I went to U.C. as God used that time to shape me into who I am today. 

It was at U.C. that I met Mark Householder, campus staff for Athletes in Action, who played a large role in discipling me in my faith. 30 years later Mark and I connected again as I was moving into a role of international swim official and he was now President of AIA. It's been a great partnership, thanks to my time at U.C.

Because I was close to home I was able to start working at my now home church, Salem UM, under the leadership of John Larsen who took some risks and allowed me to lead. This time shaped me. 

Being a college athlete was awesome. I wouldn't trade it. Some of those teammates continue to be friends. Some of the foreign teammates became good friends - from West Germany, Sweden, Norway, Canada & Great Britain. My mother, having a gift of hospitality, would invite them over for Thanksgiving dinner, fixing a local dish each time - Black Forest Cake for one. They were grateful for a home-cooked meal. We enjoyed their friendship and the connection for years to come.

If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't make the decision for school the same way.....knowing what I know now. I look at that decision as an illustration of how God uses our choices, whether they are His first choice or not - whether they are done with His values or not - and He shapes us. I am grateful for all He taught me at U.C. and how He is using those things even up to this day.

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