Little Tiffany was a born swimmer. When I was pregnant with her, I was very active, running 10K races. My Chinese Doctor, who I was very fond of, thought I was overdoing it and he suggested I stop running for the duration of my pregnancy, and perhaps do something gentler, like swimming. I swan lengths four to five days a week. When I was in the last trimester, after I finished my swim and took a shower, my abdomen would move rapidly as my baby kicked hard inside of me. It seemed she wanted to continue swimming.
When she was five months old, I took her to a mom-and-baby Learn to Swim class. The instructors were amazing. I was overly cautious. I didn’t want to put my precious baby under the water. The instructors were insistent that it was important to get babies safe in the water. I finally did and little Tiffany came up laughing with her big blue eyes sparkling. Almost every other child was screaming. Other mothers would compliment me on how well my baby did and they asked what I did differently. I explained, that my child loves the water, but yours doesn’t. It was oversimplified but it’s how I felt. If she’d been a screamer, I wouldn't have gone back to class.
By the end of class, she was flipping over on her back floating and breathing by herself. By the time she was a year old, she was swimming to the edge of the pool and holding on.
Tiffany loved all things about dolphins, whales, and orcas. We took the kids to Marine Land, in Niagara Falls. It was a quiet, rainy day, and we were all alone in the underground Beluga viewing area. The baby beluga swam to the window and did a little spin, then looked at Tiffany and her brother, Alex. They laughed. The little beluga did it again. Spontaneously, Tiffany spun around too. The beluga looked like it was smiling, but they do have a permanent smile look. Then it kept spinning and both kids were spinning around, sharing a moment with the amazing, inquisitive creature. Another family ran up to the window and the baby beluga swam off.
The killer whale show intrigued Tiffany and she announced that she wanted to be a killer whale trainer. We visited many aquariums and sea parks throughout North America and she was always entranced by everything about the creatures from the sea. Except for sharks. She has an irrational fear of sharks. I pointed out that there is a possibility that a killer whale would eat her just as much as a shark. She responded that no, she trusted that she had a connection with killer whales but she couldn't understand sharks.
Tiffany continued her swimming and excelled. She was very dedicated even though the sport of competitive swimming is intense and extremely time-consuming. She has very long arms so the butterfly stroke was natural for her. Training in the pool, sometimes twice a day, and dry land training with weights twice a week, made her extremely strong. She was capable of excellent performance in all four strokes and the medleys. She was able to get into a high school for gifted athletes, which allowed her to travel to compete in swim meets, and still complete assignments and exams on her own schedule.
While in high school she contracted mononucleosis. She was devastated that she couldn’t compete in a very important meet. When she recovered, she never regained her stamina completely. While she was still strong and fast, her distance swimming suffered. However, she was almost invincible in the 50-meter butterfly. Her coach, who was on the Canadian Olympic coaching team, was hopeful that the Olympic committee would add the 50 Butterfly to the competition. It still has not been added. She traveled all over Canada as a member of the Canadian National Swim team.
As Tiffany was about to enter college, our family moved to Miami. Tiffany decided to major in Early Childhood Education and enrolled in college. She took a brief hiatus from swimming. Since the campus had a 50-meter pool, she decided to stay in shape by swimming a few days a week. A swimmer from the Miami swim team also swam there and coaxed her to join the team. They competed all over the US, including Hawaii and New York City. Amazingly, her grades also excelled, and she graduated on the Dean’s list.
While she was at Miami Dade College, a couple of her best friends from Ontario came for a visit. Tiffany, her brother, and the guests all insisted on swimming with dolphins. They wanted an organic experience and chose a place where the dolphins still had access to the open ocean if they chose. Although the location did offer a gentle encounter with their trained dolphins, they also offered an experience where it was up to the dolphins if they wanted to engage with humans. The group before them had zero encounters and complained bitterly about it. We were worried the kids had wasted their money. But since they were all competitive athletes and strong swimmers, the dolphins were interested. Tiffany immediately started her strong, underwater dolphin kick that had won her so many metals. She also hummed as the staff suggested. Spike took notice. He curiously circled her and then started swimming with her, just above or below her, in the same rhythm as her kicks. The staff was surprised and one of them said, "Oh my, Spike is in love!" Fortunately, Spike was well-behaved and just cherished the bond with this aquatic human. All four had great encounters.
Tiffany received a scholarship to Florida International University for swimming and was Captain of the Swim team. Because of this she also competed as part of The US National Swim team. In most meets, Tiffany swam on both the 50 Freestyle relay and swam the butterfly on the medley relay, as well as her individual events. The training was intense, still in the pool twice a day and on alternate days once in the pool and in the weight room. Despite the tiring schedule, she graduated Magna Cum Laude in the Batchelor of Education program.
Tiffany was hired immediately by the school she interned in. She later pursued her master’s in education technology and again graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Central Florida, while still teaching.
She currently teaches Kindergarten, which she prefers because it allows her to help identify students who need help learning differently.
I feel she still secretly thinks that she could swim with a pod of wild Orcas and no harm would come to her. She is one with the creatures of the sea. Except for sharks, she wants to love them and wishes them no harm, but doesn't feel the love back.
About the Creator
Mary Haynes splits her time between a romantic old sailboat in tropical waters and a beach home in Ontario. A wanderer, by fate, she embraces wherever she roams! Mary recently completed her first children’s book, “Who Ate My Peppers?”