My Swimming Career – 1962

Photo from the Northwestern Colt, the school newspaper.

Both the Olympic swimming events and the insane hoopla about Champion Gabby Douglas’ hair took me back to my own swimming experience. I first joined the Swim Club as a freshman so that I could spend more time swimming. I took a regular swim class every semester and we swam everyday, except Friday, when we went across the street to the Lucky Strike Bowling Alley and bowled so that the regular gym class could use the pool. We also stayed after school for an hour doing more focused swimming.  I didn’t enjoy competing, but I did like swimming so I stayed after the club became a team. I usually swam only in the relay but sometimes all the best swimmers would be ineligible due to bad grades and I would have to swim in a race. One time I came in second place. There were only two in that race.  There was one girl in my class who made negative comments about my hair during the three and a half years I swam. I wish that I had known more ways to wear my natural hair instead of just pulled back in a little bun, which she kept telling me, looked like a shredded wheat biscuit. During my senior year our regular coach left to have a baby and the new coach turned the team into a synchronized swimming club. I didn’t much like her and I did not like synchronized swimming at all, so for that last semester of high school, I did no swimming.

8 thoughts on “My Swimming Career – 1962

  1. Did you see that all of the girls on Gabby’s Olympic Team used gel and made their hair look like hers after criticism that Gabby’s hair wasn’t “right?” They showed her teammates in the stands wearing their hair in such a way as to show solidarity with Gabby. Interestingly, most of the negative comments came from the African-American community.

    1. I didn’t see that. Good for them! I am not surprised about where the comments came from. Sadly, many have a very negative view of black hair.

  2. What a mean little creature that girl was! She was probably jealous of your swimming ability but that’s small consolation when you’re young. I hated swimming in races because I was not a good swimmer -all spindly arms and legs. BTW I read your comment on Susan’s page about forgetting things – loved it.

    1. I think she really couldn’t understand how I could/would go around with my hair like that and not keep it straightened and all. I was so out of the loop in high school that it really didn’t matter to me. She wasn’t nice though. She would never have taken swimming because she wouldn’t want to mess up her hair. After we graduated we went to different colleges and years later I heard from someone who went to high school with us that she had a very unhappy life.

      I really liked it when I remembered everything. Wish I’d written it all down. ;-P

  3. I hadn’t heard any of the Gabby Douglas hair hoo-ha as I’ve really not been into the Olympic thing. How super ridiculous that she won golds and yet her HAIR was criticised. What is with that?! Great that her teammates supported her in that way by gelling their hair in a similar way.

    1. I haven’t been following the Olympics either but people kept posting about it on my fb page. Hair and what is done with it can be a very contentious topic in the black community.

  4. Image over Substance….Sport has got more&more like that dont you think?
    A Great Photo! You must have been pretty good to be on a team photo in the newspaper!

    1. I think everything has gotten more and more image over substance. It was the entire girl’s swim team, good, bad and mediocre. It was in the school paper. I was a faithful member and my style was pretty good but my speed was not.

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