Where Does One Begin

Emily Lilyestrom

Where Does One Begin 

For those who know me – well, you know that no sooner had I arrived home from the Divisionals swim meet that I would be putting pen to paper (so much more eloquent than fingers to keyboard) so that I could start writing about the meet – thoughts and emotions fresh and brewing.

And of course I did just that. 

And as I was busy composing the written word, another nearby was busy producing the visual.

I wrote about the amazing Divisionals meet.  The one in which two relay teams comprised of outstanding individuals first; swimmers second, broke two Team records.  I wrote about what it meant to break these records – not only for the swimmers, but the Team.  I wrote about how you cannot do such unless you are tenacious, have that commitment and drive to never quit, never give up, and press on – despite obstacles that might try to interfere.  Of course it is fair to say that athleticism and a little bit of adrenaline helps as well.  I thanked these swimmers, these relay teams, for giving this team – the Kingfish – an amazing summer memory and I even went so far as to try and re-live the moment for those of you that were not present.

It was epic – the written word.  But then the video producer working on the visual emerged and said, “watch this.”  And watch I did, as the tears pooled and every single emotion I had experienced earlier that day came right back at me as I rewatched the highlights from Divisionals.  Amazing.

I suddenly had doubts about my written word.  Maybe the visual would just work better.

I continued with my writing, congratulating all of the Kingfish swimmers for their accomplishment – swimming in the Divisionals meet – and for the stellar representation of our team.  Swimming in this meet is not the “raison d’etre” for a lot of swimmers on the team – but you don’t get there without hard work and commitment and that deserves noting.  Congratulations on the Team’s 2nd place finish.

I recapped all of the records that were broken that day by a Kingfish swimmer – and as I “wrote” I found myself saying “broke another Team record” so frequently that the phrase appeared to consume the page.   But writing allowed me to re-live those moments once again – so perhaps the written word does usurp the visual.

So as not to fall victim to time – because our season ending banquet was set to begin in a couple of hours – I settled in to what was a comfortable first draft, fresh off the presses as they say, prepped and gathered for the banquet and headed out the door.

The embraces, the conversations, the thank you’s – taking in the tent, the stage, the trophies, and watching the members of this community come together to celebrate this amazing team – the Kingfish – one last time.  And as the program began I sat in my chair, one of 18 reserved for parents celebrating a particular group of 9 – very near and dear to our hearts.  And as the program began, I listened to the spoken word, in particular were those recounting some of the highlights from the morning – and those relay teams.

Perhaps the spoken word is more powerful than both the written and the visual.

As the evening continued on, I found myself re-writing.  Perhaps I should write about what we witnessed, no - felt - during our evening.  We were all beholden to the parade of athletes as they were awarded their trophies – a small but meaningful tribute to being part of the Kingfish in Summer 2021.   Along with the trophies came acknowledgement for the various accomplishments of these swimmers – by age group and individual.  We all partook in a heartfelt farewell to our Assistant Head Coach – oh how he will be missed.  And those 18 parents, celebrating the special group of 9 with tributes that touched us all. 

The spoken word.

And as the tributes wrapped up and everyone scurried to find their special place for viewing the traditional season ending video – I stopped my re-write and paused to watch.  I stopped to watch because, mind you, even though I had already seen the documentary many times, from its original 30 seconds all the way up to the final 45 minutes, I will never get tired of re-living memories of this amazing swim team – the Kingfish.

And at the end of the 45 minutes – it all came to me.  Of course it is the written word, because for those of you that were not able to attend Divisionals and witness Kingfish history – watching our relay teams break those records was untouchable.  As it was to watch our individual Kingfish swimmers break their records – some for the last time as they graduate and move on.  As it was to watch and be inspired by every swimmer from this Team competing, from our 8 & unders all the way up to and including our 15-18 swimmers.  And the written word takes you there. 

As does the visual – because you can hear the screams, watch the emotion, feel the embraces, and absorb the athleticism.

As does the spoken word – because in this modern day and age reading it on an electronic device does not and never will replace hearing the spoken word.

So cup of coffee in hand – I continued with my re-write, just the day after.  I smiled as I re-lived Saturday, July 24th, a day that could not have been more perfect.  And since you can never say thank you enough – thank you.  Thank you to our swimmers.  You are the reason we do this every summer and you never let us down.  Thank you to the parents that make this possible – every single one of you volunteering more hours than one thought to be humanly possible.  And thank you for returning next summer and continuing with the traditions.  And thank you for those kind words – the spoken word that disappears as soon as it is released but is never forgotten.

We are an amazing unstoppable group when we come together.  And come together you will again, next summer, Summer 2022.  Good luck Kingfish – Division C.  Knock it out of the park.