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.



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