Mucho más temprano que tarde, de nuevo se abrirán las anchas alamedas por donde pase el hombre libre para construir una sociedad mejor.

Sole Panamericana

La organización del campeonato Panamericano Master de Natación hizo una convocatoria a los nadadores para que contaran porqué nadaban. Esta fue la convocatoria:

The 2018 Pan American Masters Championships wants to hear about you! Why do you love masters swimming? Why did you decide to come to 2018 Pan American Championships? Is this your comeback from cancer, surgery, pregnancy? Are you swimming for someone or in memory of someone? What are your goals at our event? To finish the race, to win or to just have fun with your friends? Have you event broken any national or world records over your masters swimming career? What are you outside of the water? A doctor, lawyer, nurse, mom, dad, grandparent or great-grandparent? What is your history in all sports or just in swimming? Did you swim in the Olympics for your country? Are you a NCAA, state or local champion in your past? What and who encourages you on a daily basis? What can we do as a community to encourage each other?

We want to highlight your journey to the 2018 Pan American Masters Championships. Tell us your story, share a picture or two and we may highlight YOU before and during the championship event!

Yo, de intensa, me puse a escribir y esto fue lo que salió y lo que mandé:

I am Solentiname, from Costa Rica. Everybody calls me Sole. And I swim with my eyes closed.

I am 5 years old and my memories have the yellowish color of old seventy’s pictures. I’m in Ojo de Agua, perhaps the only public pool in San José, a popular getaway for weekends. My cousin and I play in one of three large pools, with a deep end and a shallow one for kids. A bridge crosses over the pool.  My cousin’s husband swims in the big one and jumps from the trampolines with the other men. They shower in the strong waterfall. The water is clean, pure, fresh, cold. No chemicals, not even chlorine.  It comes directly from an underground spring and feeds the three pools 24 hours a day to this date. I want to swim in the big pool one day. And I do.

Open your eyes!- my coach says

In Miami Beach, my uncle’s house has a pool. I spend every day of my two-week vacation there, trying to learn to swim by myself, imagining I am a mermaid princess, escaping the villain sharks that try to catch me. I am so happy, lost in my own underwater world. My uncle throws me to the deep end, but instead of swimming out, I sink to the bottom. I remember the feeling of going down down down. They must dive in for me.

When I come back home, I don’t even ask my mom for swimming lessons. I’m just a kid but even I know It is too expensive. Only rich people have access to the private clubs with pools in 1980. There is a recession, can’t you see?

Open your eyes! – My coach says

Claudia Poll wins the gold medal in the Atlanta 1996 Olympics, 200 meters free style, 1:58.16. She smiles, and then, picks up a small Costa Rican flag she had right next to her starting block and starts to swim slowly, warming down, waving the little flag of her little country. She cries, tears of joy. Thousands of us cry with her, watching from afar, from home, on TV, how she made all of us proud, how she put our flag for the first time in history in the first place at the Olympics. The Costa Rican Ondina, the media calls her. Su gesta heroica, they say. I’m an instant fan. I still am.

Open your eyes!- My coach says

I wake up after my breast removal surgery. It does hurt, I am woozy but I’m able to move my arms freely. I wouldn’t know until the next day, but they found cancer. Swimming saved me. Swimming made my breast muscle so strong that the cancer did not have the chance to grow. I won’t need chemo. I am 1 in 100,00 cases, a medical miracle, they call it.

When the bandages hurt, when I am hot and upset, when I get tired and impatient, I meditate and see myself in the pool. One, two, three laps. I repeat my mantra “I swim because I want to return to the first silence”. Two months later, I come back to the pool. My balance center and my whole idea of me and my body have shifted. I need to learn to swim again and I do.

Open your eyes!- My coach says

Twenty years later, I see Claudia race again. We find the race on YouTube and project it over a white bed sheet. Her eyes water up again. And mine. And my coach’s too. It was his fifth Olympics. He would go to three more.  We all root for her and scream at the bed sheet “Vamos, Claudia! Duro, Claudia! Cierre, Claudia!” and clap wildly as she finishes in first place. We are celebrating the anniversary, as a team and we get to see the original gold medal and eat cake and pupusas.   She always says she wouldn’t have done it without our coach.

They tell us how, when they just met after she won, they had agreed to use the first minute for technical review, My coach told her everything she had done wrong. And then they hugged. He says that if he had not tried to do one last stroke, her time would have been even better. We all laugh. I am not yet part of the team, but my coach tells me they have their eyes on me. I smile.

Open your eyes!- My coach says

My son is rooting for me. Every time I race, with every stroke, I can hear his little baby voice, non-stop: “Mamá, mamá, mamá, mamá”. He claps when I finally finish, last in my heat. He wants to hug me and kiss me and to be held up as soon as I come out of the pool, breathless. He came into my life just before the Budapest World Championship and I stayed home to build my bond with him.  On Saturdays, we go to the pool together. I swim breaststroke with him on my back. Backstroke, with him on my belly. He loves it. His laughter is like small bells tinkling away in the water.

I swim for him, because I want him to remember his mom as someone who never gave up, who tried against all odds, who faced her fears, who always smiled at adversity. I want him to know that we swim not because of what we can do for swimming, but because of what swimming does for us.

Open your eyes!- My coach says

I am the weakest link of the team, the slowest one, the one who can’t flip turn, can’t do butterfly stroke, the first one to sign up for all meets. But my coach treats me just like the others. He has infinite patience with me. He comforts me when I cry because I had a panic attack after the 50 m freestyle in a meet, the hardest style for me. He takes notes, he adapts the sets for me, he makes comments, he tells me what I did well, when I went wrong. “it’s a matter of personal vanity- he says- I will teach you to swim”.  He knows all our times by heart. He has taught my mind to make my body obey. He has taught my mind to believe I can fly, to be patient, to be humble, to forget about the world, to focus on me. He has taught me how passion forges a lifetime. I forget how many times I have re learned how to swim in the past three years.

Open your eyes!- My coach says.

“See the water! Watch your team mates! Taste the water, smell the water, don’t fight it! Be one with the water!” – he says. And I do. The sun is coming up and the sky looks like those ads I see abroad picturing Costa Rica as a pastel colored paradise. The parrots fly by, vibrant green spots against the sky, making a lot of noise. Claudia Poll swims in the lane right next to mine. My pals and I swim in lane two. I got recently promoted to lane two and couldn’t be happier. The smell from a freshly prepared breakfast from the house next door slowly drifts in as we prepare for the final set.  My coach sets the record times. Miss them, and you will have to repeat. We hem and haw, we whine a lot, but we all love to be there, 4:30 am, five days a week-

Open your eyes!- My coach says

As I finally learn how to dive in perfectly, I open my eyes and in a split second, I watch air change to liquid, I see the frontier between them, the moment they merge. I remember Eddie the Eagle, the British underdog ski jumper who charmed the world at the 1988 Winter Olympics. I am Eddie.  I’ve never broken any local record. I’ve never gone to the Olympics. I don’t aspire to anything. I know I will be the sole queen and owner of the last place and I love it.  I want to swim, swim, swim. I am going to the 2018 Pan American Masters Championships, representing my country. I can’t believe it.  “You are a warrior”- my coach, Francisco Rivas, says. “You made me one” I want to answer. But I just smile.

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6 gotas de lluvia en “Sole Panamericana”

  1. Gabriela Fonseca dice:

    Una guerrera, mujer maravilla (WW).
    Un ejemplo a seguir por su actitud.
    Inspiradora 😘

  2. Diego dice:

    Estoy llorando.

  3. Eli dice:

    You are a warrior. My guardian angel. My hero.

  4. Eduardo dice:

    Go Shaolin Swimmer. We’re rooting for you…

  5. Laura Pardo dice:

    ¡Sos maravillosa! Te quiero Sole <3

  6. Caro Sandoval dice:

    Sos súper gata! Mil éxitos en el campeonato!!!

Y vos, ¿qué pensás?