by Dezmond Remington
Water is a terrible medium for sound, being roughly 800 times denser than air. It is practically impossible to speak underwater. This makes it all the more incredible that water brings people together so well.
Emily Handy, president of the new swim club on campus, is attempting to bring that sense of community to what is often a very solitary sport. Handy swam competitively in elementary school, but took time off from the sport until last November, when she broke her ankle after slipping down a wet hill while biking. Swimming was one of the few sports she could do, as it’s low-impact and it didn’t hurt her ankle like a bike did.
“I want people to come regardless of their skill level or commitment,” Handy said. “I just want people to be able to go into the pool, be able to have contact with lifeguards, or coaches, people who can kind of mentor them if they have questions…there’s people who aren’t necessarily the strongest swimmers or people who don’t necessarily want to compete but they want to show up to the club anyways just to be able to swim, to ask questions about form, just kind of be in the water, figure it out. And I want to give them access to that.”
Indeed, there are quite a few people interested in joining the club, well over thirty at last count, all different varieties of people.
Kaden Tobin was a competitive swimmer for 11 years, has taught swim lessons for five years, and coached for a year and a half. One of the reasons they chose to go to Humboldt was the fact that there is a pool on campus, and they assumed there would be a team or a club that used it. When they got to campus and discovered that wasn’t the case, they were disappointed. They believe the swim club has a lot of potential to bring people together.
“There’s a lot of people that go into watersports, and you get this sense of community,” Tobin said. “I think it’ll be great for connecting people, especially incoming freshmen or people who have been on campus and haven’t really explored it yet.”
It is that sense of community that has the most appeal to the members of the swim club. Transfer student Emma Wilson, who has been swimming since she was nine and is now a lifeguard and swim instructor at the Arcata Community Pool, agrees.
“Working together, even though it’s an individual sport, you still get that motivation from each other,” Wilson said. “Like when someone completes a lap and they… make progress and I think that’s really inspiring for me to continue swimming and my passion for it.”
What members want to get out of the swim club varies. Handy hopes it will be a gateway to expanding student access to the pool. Tobin wants it to be a good social outlet, and Wilson wishes for a competitive, dynamic team, with swim meets and the like, even though she describes herself as a very noncompetitive person. Regardless of goals, that desire comes down to the people you’re doing it with.
“It’s an individual sport against yourself,” Wilson said. “But then the team brings everyone together…it’s just really uplifting. And so I hope we can bring more of a community and acceptance for it.”