One Step at a Time: returning to the glory days

Fitness columnist Abbie Wenthe on wishing for high school

It’s about that time of year when I start getting a little anxious for home and really start missing my high school friends and all the activities I participated in. According to my Twitter feed, I’m not the only one. Homecoming always reminds me of high school and the fun activities and assemblies that brought my school together.

Besides high school friends and the simpler times without organic chemistry, I miss the activities I participated in — mainly swimming.

Swimming for my high school was the best thing and the worst thing: practices before and after school, lifting and countless yards back and forth in a pool with basically toxic chlorine levels. I’m dead serious — sometimes we weren’t allowed in the water because the chlorine was so high, and other times we had to get out of the pool and go outside just to get some air to our lungs. Throughout the season, our arm hair and eyebrows would essentially fall off, and the boys’ hair turned into troll hair. My favorite time was when the custodian walked around the pool and dumped buckets of neutralizer in for a quick fix. It’s safe to say my high school really cared about swimming.

I miss the people and the friends I had connected to swimming, but what I miss the most is that in-shape, take-on-the-world feeling. I definitely don’t miss my ridiculous man shoulders, but I miss the exercise and the sport in general. I know I can’t be the only one pining for high school athletics and the exhilarating feeling of playing football, soccer, volleyball or any other sport and taking the stage in front of the school every week.

So instead of wallowing in self-pity and crying over pictures from the good ol’ days, I decided to take action and do something to combat my sadness. I grabbed my swim cap, goggles, suit and towel and headed for the rec, where the beautiful pool awaited my arrival. Before jumping in, I got that giddy, anxious feeling of not wanting to immerse myself in the cold water, but I got in anyway and instantly felt a calmness wash over me. My first couple hundred yards felt amazing, but once I hit about the five-minute mark, everything just fell apart. I had the same feeling of just finishing a race, but I had barely completed a warm-up. However, I kept pushing and was able to swim a couple thousand yards -- a fraction of what I used to conquer, but it’s a start.

After swimming a few times, those pangs of high school glory have receded, and I’ve come to my senses that returning to high school would probably not be the best idea. Who wants to go back to those school lunch days? I’ve found that incorporating the best of both worlds of high school and college is the best way to feel like a kid again and get some exercise that doesn’t involve dying on a treadmill for an hour.

Gather up some friends and start a game of volleyball or soccer or whatever game ruled your life in high school. More than likely, a high percentage of people have played the same sport and would love to get back into it as well. The rec does offer club sports of every sport I’ve heard of and more, but these require an extra fee and sometimes a tryout and large commitment is required for membership. If commitment just isn’t something you can handle, which is extremely common in college students, then opt for a quick pickup game with friends or practice alone. Instead of freaking out about getting old, practice a game from high school and get some much-needed exercise by returning to those younger days.

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