Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dress for Success . . . in Swimming

Besides hunting free-range bison and weaving baskets from reeds I gather myself, part of my weekly chores in San Leandro involve going to a little organic dry cleaners, aptly named "Organic Dry Cleaners." The sweet young Korean owner, maybe tardy a few ESL classes, is always behind the front counter. The other day she said to me, "Ooooh. New style in shirt!" It was about 70 degrees and I was wearing a print top, which I'd pulled out of the closet that morning after months of wearing heavier clothes. She continued, "Usually say 'swim' on shirt!"

Oh man, busted.

I have devolved now to wearing swim t-shirts and/or swim sweatshirts with my jeans or capris on a daily basis. I do not, however, own the shirt on the right.

When I was a high school athletic director I was involved in athletic governance at every level I could. I organized our school's teams of course, but I worked at the league and section level as well. Meetings, meetings, meetings. The AD dress de jour was a warmup suit (matching polyester pants and jacket) with a polo shirt underneath. As I was clearly moving up in the world I always wore dresses or suits, makeup and jewelry at those meetings. That's right, you're still in Marcia's blog! I really did. Dress for one level above your current position, they say. Why I would have wanted to be League Commissioner and go to 750 playoff games each year (including thrilling 24-20 Varsity Girls Basketball games) was inexplicable.

After I left the AD job I moved on to coaching swimming exclusively. My dressing up was then limited to awards banquets (perhaps "banquet" is too strong a word for lasagne and green salad) once per season. After my last college coaching gig ended I have stabilized here at the Masters coaching and college teaching plateau, where dressing up is never required. But as I still compete occasionally, and those competitions usually come with free t-shirts, I have been accumulating many swim couture items. So, I wear them.

My daughter, a freshman in high school, dresses exactly the same. My first thought is 'Whew! Saving some money here!' and my second is 'Dang, she needs a little exposure to the effort it takes to be a grown-up.' It just about killed her to get into a skirt for her Bat Mitzvah, and she begrudgingly wore a cotton skirt and white blouse to every Bat Mitzvah party she attended, oblivious to all the other seventh-grade girls wearing size 00 miniprom dresses and heels.

She comes from a decade where casual rules (and that would be squared because we're in California), and because she's so comfortable being a jock she wears the uniform with pride. Many of her swimming buds dress the same way, but there are plenty who do the whole Hollister/Nordstrom's thing. I've seen really good swimmers do an entire 5000-yard practice with mascara and eyeliner. Like you need eye makeup when you're half-naked and wet with three high school sophomore boys in your lane.

But I guess she'll figure it out when she needs to. I do dress up occasionally (anniversary, Thanksgiving, Passover, and the occasional trip to the Grand Jury -- wow, that's more than I thought -- but not so much. I'm confortable and happy. So is she.


Ann said...

First, we need more MEMO gear! =) Second, as my rowing coach once said, you can come in heavy make-up, earrings, flowers in your hair, neon pink suits, but you had better be FAST. Otherwise, you just look ridiculous.

Marcia Benjamin said...

I like your coach, Ann!