KEEP CALM AND SWIM
by Rynel Mejia
Last September 27 to 30 the 75th Season of the UAAP swimming tournament was held wherein me and my teammates from the Ateneo Swimming Team participated and won our first ever Championship after 75 years. It was a very memorable and historic event for all of us. Of the four days of competition, I have observed a lot of people and noticed a lot of differences and similarities between groups of people depending on their schools or teams.
Five schools joined the tournament, Ateneo de Manila University, University of the Philippines, University of the East, De La Salle University and University of Santo Tomas. The competition and the cheering were very intense. The rivalry between the schools was very much present throughout the whole tournament, especially between Ateneo and DLSU who are fighting for the Championship.
During the warm-ups, especially the first day, first thing that I observed or may have noticed (or checked out) were the women, both the ones in the pool and on the bleachers, had almost one thing in their agenda, the hot male swimmers and also their crushes which they may have not seen for a while. I could overhear some of them whispering to each other saying “Oh my God, he is so hoottt!!” or “swimmers are really hoottt!!” and i was like
But one thing that surprised me the most were the gays, who were with these group of women. They too were talking about their crushes and checking out some of the male swimmers and saying “SOO HOOTTT!” but now i was like
Well it was natural for these people, both the women and the gays, since they were stuck there for 4 whole days seeing men in their speedos, walking around almost naked with their bodies all wet, and droplets of water running down their chest and abs. It couldn’t be helped for these people; in fact it was irresistible for them not to think about these things since men are around them all day. The same thing goes with the men, but we only talk about these things inside the quarters since men aren’t that much open about women when in public.
After the warm-ups after the pool was cleared to prepare it for the start of the tournament, all the teams gathered with each other to pray and to cheer for their school, which was somewhat already a tradition or a practice before the start of any competition. We prayed and cheered, and so did the other teams, and as we did this I could see the excitement in everyone’s faces. It gave me the goose bumps whenever I hear the cheers.
But then when you go down to the ready benches (place where the swimmers names are called and given time cards to give their timers), there’s a whole new atmosphere, some were very serious: all alone with their earphones or headphones on probable listening to hype music or music with fast beats and stretching or loosening their muscles, some were a bit chill: very quiet or talking with a few of their teammates while sitting down, some were a bit loud: talking among their friends and saying jokes or laughing loudly. But even with all these, one can still feel the tension, the nervousness and the pressure felt by every swimmer. Some sit down quietly visualizing and maybe thinking about a lot of things (like me), some talk and joke around to relieve the tension or bypass the nervousness they feel, while others just try to psych out their opponents by making them too confident or maybe scaring them out with your best times (which sometimes I also do).
In the afternoon, everything gets even more hyped up since it’s time for the finals, people are more excited and at the same time there is more tension, nervousness, and pressure between the swimmers. These could be seen very clearly during the warm-ups before the finals, where people could be seen or heard whining about the heat and the brightness of the sun which for me is like a tantrum to most people in the swimming world where they complain about almost anything.
As the day progressed and as events were being finished one by one, more and more people could feel the effects of the tournament, the mental and the physical stress that they were undergoing. As I went to the cool-down pool, I could see a lot of tired and exhausted swimmers who had just finished their events, some were happy that they won and broke records wherein some are very humble being very quiet while the boastful can be easily spotted or seen with big grins in their faces.
Some were disappointed about losing or having a bad swim. One thing I noticed was that many swimmers complain a lot and find many reasons about how bad their times or their swim was, some complain about pain of which there isn’t any part of the human body that isn’t mentioned, but in fact they just basically lost their events and couldn’t accept it or feel humiliated or felt their pride being stepped on or that they were being judged for losing.
But no matter how competitive the swimming world is, all of us are still friends, no matter from what school you’re from or how strong you are. Win or lose, all of us love the same things, and that is swimming.