Friday, June 07, 2013

Future Olympians, Right Here

We have not been a swim team family in a couple of years.  Our experiences with the swim team gave us some great memories of Michael's accomplishments, provided us with a way to quickly integrate ourselves into our new community, and resulted in at least one water-safe child.

Just because we are no longer active participants in the swimming season does not mean we are completely separated from that world.  With the pool across the corner from us, we are constantly aware of the season's schedule.  Michael and I took some time to enjoy the team's time trials last weekend, in fact.  We also remain dimly aware of the accomplishments of the area's many (many) youth swimmers.

Last week, our community enjoyed an achievement unprecedented in the history of youth swimming.  In the sectional finals of the 100 meter breaststroke, a swimmer from Campolindo High (Kelly's school) broke the national high school record for the event set by a current Olympian.  That is remarkable enough, but moreso is the fact that a swimmer from rival Miramonte High finished second, also under the prior national record.  More remarkable than that, and capping off a truly unique race, the third place swimmer also finished under the previous record.  Those in the know are calling this one of the best races in high school swimming history, if not the best outright.  (Here is an interesting interview with one of the coaches involved in the event; as the article demonstrates, the swimming community is extremely close-knit in our part of the world.)

The second place swimmer, Charlie Wiser, was a regular swimmer in the league in which our swim team competes.  His name is on the "best times" walls of all of the nine pools that make up our league, for all sorts of events at all different ages.  He was demonstrably one of those kids who shows at age 7 that he is going to be something special at age 18, and so it came to pass.  I saw him swim only once at our pool, but I will never forget it.  After watching hours of youth swimmers over the course of many meets, you develop a sense for what to expect out of the athletes in terms of form and speed.  In the water, Wiser was like a different species.  He cut through the water more smoothly than anyone, carrying impossible amounts of speed so easily that it seemed inconceivable that he was not wearing flippers.  Even his turn was surgically precise and astonishing quicker than anyone else's.  I knew, even as I stood on the pool deck in the darkening evening at the end of an otherwise non-descript Wednesday dual meet, that I was seeing something rare and wonderful. 

Wiser has gone on to a notable high school career as both a swimmer and water polo player, and will continue his aquatic career at Stanford.  The funny thing is that you truly could see this coming for more than ten years.  It is a genuine pleasure to be around people, whatever their age might be, who are blessed to be able to compete at such a level that few people in history have ever attained such heights.