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Beth’s first semester of Harvard classes required more reading than was humanly possible for anyone needing sleep. She wanted to read every word, an insurmountable challenge. Like some of the other freshmen, she had doubts that she belonged at Harvard. College swamped her and she needed extra time to take care of herself. By herself.
Swim training also required extended blocks of time.
Beth called the shuttle operator to schedule rides to and from Blodgett pool, located south of the main campus over the Charles River. She wheeled a long stretch across Harvard Yard from her dorm to get to the shuttle, which dropped her off in the street above the pool. She learned to weave back and forth down the hill to the entrance to cut her speed and maintain control. Getting back up the hill? Always a slow challenge. On lucky days, another student going the same way would give her a boost.
As fall began, Beth practiced once a week with the Harvard Women's Swimming and Diving team as team manager, plus a supervised practice another day with the assistant coach. With the addition of more pool time on her own with workouts from Peggy. At first, she compromised with three practices a week instead of her goal of five, to free time for homework.
The swimmers on the team made Beth feel welcome.
At one practice, the coach asked her strong college swimmers to complete laps without using their legs. Surprisingly difficult for even one lap. And harder still, using fists instead of open hands that could cup the water. With gradually increasing upper body strength, Beth swam hour and a half practices with modified drills and breaks at the walls.
She thought of the frequent muscle soreness in her arms and shoulders as a reward for a good workout the day before.
Next: What’s the main reason to swim on a college team?
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