Michigan Masters Swimming

Created by kellyn christmas on 06/21/2013
One of the first things that bonded me and Marianna a year ago was our realization that her mom, Raili, and my dad, Jim, were both regulars at the Ann Arbor Masters Swimming practices. Unfortunately their paths didn't cross as my dad went to evening practices, whereas Raili attended the morning practices -- which begin at at 5:45am (gulp). Not only does it take a considerable amount of tenacity to choose to exercise with regularity, but to elect to suit up and dive into a cold pool before most people are even stirring in their beds is an incredible feat in and of itself. Beyond that, swimming is a relatively thankless sport: little glory, no press, and not even the ability to socialize with lane-mates except breathlessly between sets. Those that love it, however, find the athletic purity poetic: just the swimmer, the water, and the clock. To hear Marianna tell it, one of the reasons her mom was able to withstand the battery of treatments in the last several years was because she had taken such good care of her body in the decades past - and continuing through treatment. This morning, I swam at the morning practice as a small, personal tribute to such an incredible person. The locker room afterward was filled with friends of Raili, and they traded stories of her kindness and generosity, as well as lamented her departure. While I never met Raili in person, I don't think I'm in the minority when I say she had a big impact on me nonetheless. Her story will stay with me, serving as a reminder that while life is short, we can accomplish big things during our time here. I hope to live in a way that pays homage to Raili: suit up, dive in, and face the clock.