What SAIL Means to Me - 2006 Winner

Kristen Terlitsky - FW

For the past eight years that I have lived in the Greenville area, I have had the privilege of being a part of the SAIL program in my neighborhood, Forrester Woods.  To most, SAIL means the Swim Association Invitational League, but to me it has yet another meaning.  Each summer SAIL has provided many unique and exciting experiences that have shaped my life.  Looking back at my years with SAIL, it is easy to see how much the program has meant to me.

When I first think of SAIL and what it represents, I think of my swim team.  Belonging to the Forrester Woods swim team has been an opportunity I am so glad to have experienced.  Yes, at times, being on the swim team meant those early morning practices with the freezing cold water that made my arms and legs feel immoveable.  There were also those practices and meets where I was pushed to swim fast and strong, leaving my muscles very tired at the finish.  Along with the harder elements of the swim team, there were also exciting times that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Every Friday morning after the previous night's meet we would go to practice and enjoy games, ribbons, and at times, donuts; for many that was a great incentive.  My swim team also had an annual lock-in that everyone looked forward to, a trip to Carrowinds or White Water, movies, meals together, and many other events.  My time spent on the Forrester Woods swim team signifies much of what SAIL means to me.

Along with SAIL providing the chance to be on a swim team, it also stands for a place to belong.  Every day while walking into the pool area I would be greeted with smiles and hellos by familiar faces.  The coaches would say good morning and my team mates would quickly smile.  It was great to realize that no matter what, I could come to the pool and be a part of the swim team.  I had a place to belong.  After having a team to be a part of, our swim team became familiar with each other and had a great deal of interaction.  On a daily basis there were new situations and new experiences where you were able to meet people and get to know them better.  It was easy to see that after a summer of being with the same people at least twice a day, there could be friendships and relationships made.  Many of those friendships I have had ever since I started swimming on the Forrester Woods swim team and have enjoyed the times we have shared.  Having a place to belong and much interaction among my peers are two other meaningful aspects the SAIL program provides.

One of the final things that SAIL means to me is a great amount of life lessons I have learned.  For me, swimming has not always been an easy accomplishment to make.  I have always enjoyed being on the swim team, having the chance to be with friends, and having fun but the competitive aspect of swimming was a challenge for me.  Pushing myself beyond my comfort zone was definitely a life lesson I have learned.  When up on the block ready and waiting for the whistle to be blown, I continue to remind myself not to give up and to push myself to my fullest potential.  While in the water racing against the other swimmers, it is easy for me to feel discouraged. I quickly remind myself to finish the race and to "just keep swimming".  The life lessons I have learned through the SAIL program are helpful skills that will guide me in the future.

While my last year as a Forrester Woods swimmer comes to a close, I remember back to all those exciting memories of the summers past.  When asked to state what SAIL means to me, I can not describe it briefly.  To me SAIL has meant the chance to be on a wonderful Swim team, having A place to belong, being able to Interact with others, and learning many Life skills.  I have great appreciation for SAIL and all the opportunities it has given me grow and achieve new things.