Swimming has been a part of my life for longer than I can remember. Fortunately, I can reminisce with my mother about those days. Like when she took my brother and me to the local pool when I was three. While he wore floaties and wouldnâ€™t get in past his knees, I would run over to the high dive, climb my way to the top and jump off in a graceful belly flop. Stomach red and mom visibly stressed, I would run back to do it all over again.
That beginning turned into more than 13 years of competitive swimming: age group, high school, college and now, Masters (an organization for people 18 and older).
When I moved to New York, I knew I wanted to continue swimming. I had heard about the Gay Games and gay sports teams in college. Naturally, I married the two and with a quick Google search found my new community, Team New York Aquatics.
Joining the team immediately thrust me into a different world. I started working out a few times a week and made countless new friends (particularly important having moved to a new city where I knew only a handful of people).
My calendar quickly started filling with new events: hosting a local swim meet, marching in the New York Pride Parade and raising money for local gay organizations like swimming as far as I can in one hour or swimming 6K across the Great South Bay, to name a few.
The International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics definitely win for best event. We traveled to Honolulu for our annual meet last summer. In addition to a week filled of competing in swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming, I made friends from California, Seattle, Denver, Philadelphia, D.C. and Paris. It was like gay summer camp! We spent our off time floating under the waves at Makapuâ€™u Beach, zip lining 2.5 miles through the West Maui Mountains and watching the sun set sipping Mai Taiâ€™s on a boat tour.
In June our annual meet will take us to another great island adventure: Reykjavik, Iceland.
To say this team changed my life would be an understatement. I couldnâ€™t imagine being an adult in New York without it. I highly encourage other photographers to find their own activity to join. Itâ€™s a great way to meet a group of people that you might not otherwise. And besides the obvious friend benefit, you can have a new potential source for picture making. What could be better?