Finding The Many Perks In Swimming

north baltimore swimmers at cerave invitational

Photo Courtesy: Heidi Torregroza

By Swimming World Intern Brook Jiang

PISCATAWAY – Samantha Ai and Nick Gordon of North Baltimore Aquatic Club have been swimming exceedingly well this year. At the CeraVe Invitational, Ai won four events and was top three in several others in the 11-12 age group. Gordon was second in four events, with lifetime bests in almost all of them.

Both are currently in seventh grade and started swimming at a young age (7 for Ai, 8 for Gordon), but going to meets is more fun than just the competitions and prizes. “I love to hang out in the hotel with my friends,” Ai said. “We play truth or dare, go on FaceTime, and have tons of fun.”

She started swimming as just a hobby. Now, it has become her life. She is homeschooled, so her mom lets her off the hook with homework when swimming takes over her life. Gordon swims because he has always loved the water and the ocean. “The beach just called to me,” he said with a smile.

At the meets, the two swimmers try to find opportunities to talk to swimmers from other teams. Exchanging phone numbers and Facebook IDs, they can keep in touch with friends from outside Maryland. Traveling to places across the United States has helped make them more independent. Dealing with packing suitcases and random bathroom trips, they have adapted to a busy life continually managed by the stopwatch at the pool or the clock in school.

“I suppose it is for the better, since we cannot rely on our parents forever,” said Gordon. Traveling to New Jersey bestows bragging right on these young adventurers. When a meet takes the whole weekend, swimmers also leave school early. “We had two days off this week and I get to take a trip to New Jersey,” said Gordon. “It’s certainly worth a tale when my classmates ask me what I did over the weekend.”

Talking eagerly about their activities after a busy Saturday, Ai and Gordon both claimed that rest was their first priority. “We have to get ready for Sunday’s races,” Ai said. After a team dinner, the NBAC members will linger in the lobby of the hotel, chatting with their friends, and playing on their phones.

“There’s barely any break, but we become more mature as swimmers that way,” Ai said. One of the top experiences last year was traveling to Colorado Springs for an altitude training camp, and she said she learned a lot about herself as a swimmer and it made her excited for the possibilities in 2015.

The future still seems uncertain for these aspiring swimmers. When asked about her future plans, Ai shrugged at first, but career ideas later came to her. “I want to swim, of course,” she said. “It would also be amazing to be a marine biologist or a veterinarian.” Gordon seeks a swimming scholarship to UC-Berkeley and hopes to become a doctor.

Swimming is one of the biggest priorities in their lives, and the club is their family. Gordon said, “When we swim, we meet younger and older kids like us. To swim means to find that a whole new world exists.”

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