I've been swimming nearly all my life. My parents moved to the Jones Valley area of Huntsville, Alabama when I was 5. Luckily, we were a short distance from Greenwyche Pool (and not Jones Valley Pool!), and it was there that I got my feet wet, so to speak.
I joined the swim team at Greenwyche in 1981. As a scrappy 6-n-under I hope I held onto the rope less than my competitors. I do remember being modest, and not wanting to wear a Speedo then, opting instead for some shorts, as you can see in the photo. By the time I was 9, I had become one of the fast kids, but not without mishap. On the 50 fly at a dual meet I dove in and lost my goggles. Instinctively I paused to put them back on, and with one breaststroke kick earned a DQ.
Age group swimming by design puts you in little teams with other kids your age. Soon I formed a sort of partnership with Grant Woodall, another fast kid but a year younger. When we swam together, he would take free, breast, and fly, while I took free, back, and fly. It didn't take long for him to surpass me in speed, but together we racked up quite a few points. Other guys came and went, so our relay never was really all that strong, but we always had one. As the years went on, our team got stronger and stronger, due to the influx of young families in our neighborhood. We moved up from the 'B' league to the 'A' league, and began finishing in the top 3 at City Meet.
1993 was my last year swimming with Greenwyche. At a dual meet against Jones Valley, we had a relay but they didn't. So I don't know whose idea it was, but we swam the whole thing underwater. It probably wasn't technically legal, but they gave us the points. Later at city I had my last hurrah, and my final gear malfunction. My goggles came off on the 50 free. But I swam on, perhaps a little slowed by the distraction. My time put me in 8th place for finals. The problem was, I was tied with Reed Robinson for this position. We had a swim-off, and man was it close. I drifted back to watch the electronic clock, and saw my lane appear first. My celebration was cut short when Reed's time appeared next and was identical to mine. So, we had another swim-off. This time, probably due to Reed's better conditioning, he beat me. I went on to consolation finals (for places 9-16), and finished 10th. I believe my time was better than Reed's, who finished 8th in the finals. In the end, we won City Meet, for the first time in memory.
Recently, after moving to a larger place in Oakland, I was fortunate enough to be near a pool that had a Masters team. Joining this has changed my life immensely, from becoming more physically active to greatly expanding my circle of friends.
I've also discovered open-water swimming, having competed in events in Lake Berryessa, Lake Tahoe, Lake Sonoma, Spring Lake, Lake Del Valle, and the San Francisco Bay.
Awaiting the start of the 2-mile swim at Lake Berryessa.
Boys in Green Shorts: June 16, 1982.