Monday, April 4, 2011

Speaking of T-Shirts...

T-Shirt Quilt made from my old swimming T-shirts
Yesterday, I blogged about my new T-shirt from Rhode Island School of Design. Speaking of T-Shirts, I have a T-shirt quilt made of old swimming T-shirts. The quilt was made in 2000 by Michigan quilt maker Andrea Funk of Too Cool T-Shirt Quilts, and it includes many of my pre Y2K shirts.

Dr. Seuss T-shirt worn when coaching in Princeton, NJ
When I look at this quilt, there are some happy memories. From 1994 to 1998, I coached a summer recreational swim team in Princeton, New Jersey at the Community Park Pool. During those years, I met a lot of families from the area and saw hundreds of kids growing up. The team didn't have a name or a mascot when I started, so I decided to give them a name - the Bluefish.

I designed the Community Park Bluefish T-shirt with wrap-around fish
To this day, the team maintains the name. One of the shirts I wore a lot was a Dr. Seuss shirt with the "One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish" image. We had a team cheer that went the same way, with an added "Gooooooo...BLUEFISH" at the end. One of the kids I coached as a six-year-old now has Olympic Trials cuts and swims at Harvard. Several others have had successful runs in college swimming.

In 1995, I helped coach my alma mater to a national championship.
There are also some funky memories, such as the Peddie School T-shirt. In 1995, I helped coach the team to a national high school championship. The head coach, Ray Looze, who is now head coach at Indiana University, was dismissed from Peddie for taking an unauthorized vacation, leaving a whole dorm full of boys unsupervised, and lying about where he'd gone. He was, and probably still is, a schmuck. Sadly, the sport of swimming is full of people like Ray.

As a coach and swimmer, I made three trips to the USOTC
There are many shirts from my masters swimming days. Those images mostly give me a headache. It was a time when I moved around quite a bit, trying to find jobs that would pay well. Much instability, a lot of angst and a terrible change in the leadership of the organization, which ultimately led to my permanent retirement from the sport. I can't even look at a swimming pool these days without becoming very agitated. One highlight from that time was going to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs three times, twice as a coach and once as a swimmer.

"Everything happens for a reason," I tell myself whenever I look at my T-shirt quilt. Still, I wish that part of my life could've been much more abbreviated, leaving me more time to enjoy what I'm doing today. Andrea did a wonderful job with it, and I feel badly that I don't love it as much as I once did, but I kind of wish I hadn't had this quilt made. If I could sell it, I would, but it's not exactly the type of thing anyone would want to buy. Eventually, it may become a donation of some sort. Perhaps I'll feel better about it some day. I don't use it much on the bed, but when I do, I turn it upside down so the plain blue back faces up.

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