The controversy around swimming world’s photo a few weeks ago, and Darren’s flo coverage of the Mel Zajac meet reminded me of a story.
My hometown Viking Swim Club used to go to a meet in May in Prince Rupert, B.C. We thought short course meters was kind of cool, and getting Canadian money at the bank was awesome. If you turned in ten bucks they gave you like 14 of their fancy colorized dollars back! Plus, when you buy a GI Joe toy in Canada, the package is in French and English. That’s a big deal when you’re ten years old.
Anyway, the story is that I was chosen to hold the American flag during the anthem before the first session of the meet. My high point rival, Jeremy, held the Canadian flag. We stood behind lanes three and four and leaned the pole on the block to hold them out over the water.
Holding it up for both songs was kind of agonizing. I started to get a little tired and wobbly. By the end of the music I just couldn’t help it… I accidentally dipped the American flag in the water.
The gasp from the crowd sounded like an extra, mistimed cymbal crash added to the song.
Of course, they knew I wasn’t being disrespectful… I was ten years old. The team parents did point it out, but they were nice about it.
It wasn’t like the way I was treated by the parents from the University of Cincinnati at the National Independent meet in ‘93... but of course, drawing the “boo-hiss” at a college meet was kind of an honor. Those kind of gestures are usually reserved for only the best players in the premier sports. That’s the first time I was called the "Dennis Rodman of swimming" by a coach who has been called the "Bobby Knight of swimming"… but I guess that's a story for another day.