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Photo ofGavin Wazelle

Swimming is a water racing sport that involves people from a town, county, or state who compete indoors or outdoors. In this sport, you are on a team that is used for relay races and to help others with practice. There are four types of strokes that swimmers use in the water: backstroke, freestyle, butterfly, and breaststroke. 

Before I became a swimmer, I tried a large variety of different sports ranging from indoors to outdoors to see which one I belonged in. When I was trying to find a sport I liked, I never felt like I belonged there and would easily get bored. I would dread going to practices and really just felt no excitement towards that activity. It affected my mental health and my performance in those sports.

I tried football, soccer, wrestling, and baseball, but those weren’t my sports that I belonged in. When I moved to Virginia, I had a short period of time where I didn’t want to do sports because I was new to the state, and one of the main things I enjoyed about sports was playing with and making friends. When I was pushed to find a sport by both of my parents, I tried swimming for a team called the Woodstock Dolphins, and I loved it so much and made quite a few friends along the way. I still do Dolphin swim to this day, and it is one of my favorite ways to pass time and the best part of my summer vacation. I met many of my best friends through this organization. I always felt so proud to have my parents, sister, and family friends cheering me on in the stands or calling my dad back home and telling him how my race went. It has made me really happy.

After doing Woodstock Dolphins for a while, I started to miss learning new things because I had already mastered everything they had taught me, so I started trying new things. I had found ways to swim all year round on a team called Phoenix, and the coaches there taught me so many new things and made me a lot better and faster at swimming. My favorite stroke is breaststroke because it works me hard, but not too hard. When I was in Dolphins, there was this swim called butterfly and I couldn’t learn it, but two months after I joined Phoenix I had become really good at butterfly. I made many new friends with this organization as well. This swim team worked me way harder than the Woodstock Dolphins, and I struggled in the beginning and still do sometimes. But I like the struggle. I like the challenge that learning new things and having to do more than twice the work provides me. I also enjoy traveling farther away to swim meets, and the pools are a lot bigger and fancier because they are professional or university swimming pools. 

Last summer, I did a very prestigious swim clinic, and Olympic swimmers and an Olympic coach taught me new things, too, like new techniques and workouts to make me stronger. This year my friend Evie and I are trying out for the Central High School swim team now that I’m of age to be able to. The Central High School swim team wasn’t allowing middle schoolers to swim at first because they lowered the number of people allowed to join, but because of Covid-19 there were spots open. 

Evie and I are so excited that we are allowed to join the older kids on the team if we make it through tryouts. I have been swimming for about four years now, and I never want to stop doing this sport because swimming is where I feel like I belong. Swimming brings a lot of joy in my life, and I feel like this is the piece I was missing in my life that truly makes me happy and completes my personality.

© Gavin Wazelle. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.