Swimming is challenging and relaxing

When I was 4 or 5 years old my swim lesson instructor Shawn taught me how to swim a lap in the pool. From then on I was determined to swim as many lengths as I could do. We started with the basics, something called “monkey, airplane, soldier.” I have come a long way from the basics and spend probably about four hours in the pool each week practicing and that does not count swim meets.

After I swam my very first lap, I knew I wanted to do more. I tried picking out some of the best role models I thought were good: Michael Phelps, Lily King and Katie Ledecky. I admire that they are good role models and that they work hard towards their goals and that they swim well because they practice.

I swim on the Killer Whales swim team. It is a winter sport for some reason. I usually swim about four hours a week. We meet at either the PEIF pool at Northern Michigan University or the Marquette Senior High School pool. Practices are usually about an hour, and during practice we usually swim about 250 meters. Sometimes we run drills. We do a lot of torpedoes — where we go to the middle of the lane in a line and then we swim freestyle all the way to the wall and do a flip turn as fast as we can. Sometimes we practice our diving, and I think that’s really fun.

I am in bronze beginners. There are several levels: future stars, bronze beginners, bronze advanced, silver and gold. I enjoy swimming because it’s a very friendly competition. My goal is to get a gold medal at a meet. I’ve gotten four third places, but no medals because they were not medal meets.

Swim meets are usually a few times a month. For a swim meet we have to wear a swimsuit (not a two piece bathing suit) and a swim cap. Did you know that swim caps are worn to reduce drag and keep the hair out of our face? FYI it’s pretty hard to get on. It’s pretty much a two-person job. One person holds the front of the cap to their forehead and the other person takes the back of it, flips it up and pulls it down over their head really quickly. We also have to wear goggles because they help you see the lane line and keep from crashing into other people.

Before a swim meet I usually try to practice with my family and go to the YMCA pool. There are home meets and away meets. Usually I get nervous before I swim, but the nerves go away after I’ve swam the first 25 meters. After a race I feel two things: 1. I might feel sad because I didn’t reach my goals. 2. I might feel good because I beat my last time.

I love swim meets, but I also like to free swim in pools (not Lake Superior because it’s very cold, pools are warmer). I wish I was a turtle because they can hold their breath for a long time and I love to sit underwater for a few seconds and be really still because it feels like I’m floating in space.

If you are looking for a sport that is challenging, yet relaxing and is also great exercise during the winter months give swimming a chance. If you don’t want to join a swim team, just try free swimming.

Editor’s note: Sophia Capuana is 9 years old and is in fourth grade at Father Marquette Elementary School. She loves to swim, and hopes to compete in the Olympics someday.