My Favorite Thing to Do

My Aquatic Life

My Favorite Thing to Do Assignment– 3.5 Stars

Swimming has always been my favorite activity to partake in during free time. Throughout my swimming career I have swum competitively for CYAC Swim Team a local year round club team, which is based out of Charlottesville, Virginia,

Swimming for CYAC
Swimming for CYAC

the JSL summer league team Boar’s Head,

Swimming for Boar's Head
Swimming for Boar’s Head (BHSC)

as well as my high school’s (St. Anne’s Belfield) varsity team.

At a Meet with STAB
At a Meet with STAB

Since graduating high school, I joined the University of Mary Washington Varsity Swim Team.

At a meet with Mary Washington
At a meet with Mary Washington

Swimming was always an activity that has been extremely important to me. Since starting swimming, I have swum and trained with, Bolles School Swim Team, University of Virginia Varsity Swim Team, York Pennsylvania Swim Team. My love for swimming recently went international when I travelled to Sevilla, Spain and swam with Club Naútico as part of a study abroad trip.

Club Naútico en Sevilla, Esppaña
Club Naútico en Sevilla, España


I have had the privilege of swimming in the company of several 2016 Rio Olympians including, Ryan MurphyLeah Smith, and Townley Haas

On the Podium With Current Olympian Townley Haas (Right).
On the Podium With Current Olympian Townley Haas (Right).

Swimming has always been an outlet for me. I began swimming at the ripe age of 6 and since then have never been out of the pool more than a couple of months. I began swimming at the aforementioned Boar’s Head Sports Club, the place it all began. The Boar’s Head pool record in the 6 and under boys 25 meter freestyle set all the way back in 2001 is still standing strong!

Pool Record Set in 2001
Pool Record Set in 2001

So here’s the story behind the story of the “My Aquatic Life” assignment video. In this video production, I focused exclusively on swimming in the high-impact competitive events since I was in high school. As described in other blogs, competitive swimming takes a huge commitment of time, energy, financial resources, and just plain blood, sweat and tears. All of the important work is done in training, during dry-land exercises, and in staying healthy. Now it’s show time (as Magic Johnson would say).

This video is a montage of several of my biggest events. I created a mash-up of all the events as it seemed nostalgic to do it that way and it emphasizes the continuity of the sport. I have these videos because my parents came to these major swim meets and often filmed my races on their iphones. You will notice the lane lines changing colors and the meet venue suddenly switching. That’s the mash-up aspect – the fundamentals of swimming and training are always the same as the venues, my age, and the specific meets pass along my life’s timeline.

In many of these meets, I achieved my swimming goals. In some, I did not. That is the deep message of the sport. There are always faster swimmers out there that will crush you if you are not on your game. Or even if you are. In this video, you will hear the announcer at the Capital Athletic Conference Championships note that I am on record pace in the 500 freestyle. The record I was seeking was the all-time fastest 500 free in conference history. Another record was the fastest 500 free ever swum in the 27 year history of the conference championship meet. I missed the first record by 0.08 seconds. That is, of course, less than one tenth of one second after swimming 500 yards. But I did set the meet record which was two tenths slower than that. So success and failure can be two sides of the same coin. One goal accomplished, the other goal waits for my senior year at UMW.
Competitive swimming can be like that.

Swimming for me has even moved out of the competition pool and into the community as I have helped with the Ben Hair Just Swim for Life Foundation (BHSJL), a local charity, which teaches at risk children how to swim. 

Working with the BHJSL is really personal. My swimming teammate for many years and friend, Ben Hair, died in a traffic accident on December 13, 2009. He swam for CYAC and for Albemarle High School where he graduated with honors. He swam during college and received his B.S. degree from Virginia Tech before studying at Shenandoah University’s School of Pharmacy. Ben was a swimmer since the age of 18 months and was an accredited Life Guard, at the Meade Avenue pool and The University of Virginia Aquatic and Fitness Center.

After his death, my family helped to create the BHJSL. My brother, Ryan, and I have worked over the years to expand the foundation and its mission. Together, we have managed the BHJSL website which runs in JOOMLA. Ryan helped to set it up and I provide administrative support by putting up content as requested. My favorite activity is supporting the Ben Hair Open Water Swim Meet which is held annually at Lake Anna – it is one of the largest open water (in a lake in this case) swim meets on the East Coast. In the early years, I was Gordon Hair’s, Ben Hair’s father and foundation president, “right hand man” in assisting to set up the course at Lake Anna. This is no trivial task. We set up the buoys and lane markings around the lake. The starting/finish areas has to be set up and orchestrated. Tents for officials and parking for participants has to be established in a field adjacent to the lake. My friend, Dr. Pajeski, helps us to take photographs using his personal drone. Here are some of his spectacular photographs of the swim course.

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Then, of course, I also like to compete in the event and also to assist with safety functions in kayaks that are always in the water and around the swimmers. Money raised from the event supports swim lessons for kids who would otherwise never have the opportunity to learn to swim, ending the cycle of parents and children being afraid of the water.



How to Video Project

Juggling: Literally and Figuratively

How to Video Project– 4.5 Stars

What is juggling exactly? According to the dictionary, to juggle is “to continuously toss into the air and catch (a number of objects) so as to keep at least one in the air while handling the others, typically for the entertainment of others.” While this is the literal interpretation of juggling, it is not going to be what I focus on in this story. Focusing solely on the literal interpretation of things is often times boring and if I had to assign a grade to someone who could only do things literally I would probably give him or her a C.

Below is my tutorial on how to literally juggle:

In order to go beyond the bounds of literalness, I am going to teach you about about figuratively juggling. Juggling activities. This summer I am “juggling” three major activities as captured in the image below.

The first activity I am juggling is a full time job. I am a full time summer swim coach for a summer league swim team. My job requires me to work close to 40 hours per week. There are practices every morning from 8:30am until noon and every afternoon from 4:00pm-6:00pm and meets every Wednesday night. In these meets, warm ups begin at 4pm and the final heat is usually not swum until well past 10 pm. Throw in meet entries, which are usually done on Sundays and the team cookouts, bowling trip, and other social events and you’ve got yourself a full time job.

My second activity, by the way these are not in any order of importance or difficulty, is my own personal competitive swim training and competition. I swim everyday except Sundays from 6:00 to 8:00 in the morning. This requires me to wake up at 5:15 every morning. My goal is to swim in both the Commonwealth Games in Waynesboro, Virginia as well as at the Virginia Senior Championship Meet. Senior Champs has “cut off” times (on pages 9-10) that are required to even enter the meet. Believe it or not this meet is swum in the same pool as the 2008 Olympic Trials, which were held in Omaha, Nebraska. The pool was then moved to Richmond, Virginia and is now in the GRAP facility. Don’t ask how they managed to move an entire long course pool half way across the country. 

Morning Alarms
Morning Alarms

Competitive swim training is a very significant physical and mental challenge. In addition to the many hours training in the water, usually 10-12 early morning hours of hard training per week, there is the significant “recovery time” for muscles and joints to rebuild and clear lactic acid. Even finding enough time to eat a properly balanced diet and getting enough sleep can be daunting on scorching summer days.

My third major commitment is taking Digital Storytelling 106. This course, which weirdly enough I am talking about within itself, is also a huge time commitment. It requires hours and hours of work in order to produce each assignment. However, each assignment is extremely satisfying to produce. In this course I have created tons of interesting media and have learned how to tell interesting stories that are bolstered by the media I have produced. So far I have produced visual assignments, design assignments, audio assignments and video assignments, which includes this page. I am especially enjoying learning new techniques in Word Press, Photoshop, Garageband, Audacity, and Imovie. Learning new software is challenging because the opportunities to improve your skills are seemingly endless.

So let’s put it all together and walk through an ordinary day. Wake up at 5:15 am to swim in practice from 6-8 am, rush to the pool were I coach the Fry’s Springs Beach Club and try to grab a bite to eat on the way, coach from 8:30 am until noon, eat lunch from 12:20 until 1. Nap from 1 until 2:30. Leave for afternoon practice at 3:30, coach from 4 until 6. Dinner from 6:20 until 7. Work on CPSC 106 from 7 pm until 10 pm. Sleep for a short while. Repeat. Last week’s Schedule is shown below.

Calendar Week of July 11, 2016
Calendar Week of July 11, 2016

Oh and isn’t there something people call a social life? I’m not sure, haven’t had one of those in a while… So while juggling some small spherical balls is a fun party trick, it is important to be able to juggle your life’s commitments also. 

I hope you can learn three things from me today.

  1. How to literally juggle. ✓
  2. How to figuratively juggle many different activities. ✓
  3. How to make a cool tutorial that teaches others how to literally juggle.

Below is a tutorial that explains how I made the original tutorial on how to juggle. So if you have not learned anything yet you still have one more chance! Watch the video below and you can learn how to make a cool tutorial video.

Tools Used: Imovie

Background video and song: Top Five Juggling: People Are Awesome, Circus Song.

*No poodles were harmed in this production.