The word "community" derives from the Old French comuneté, which comes from the Latin communitas "community", "public spirit" (from Latin communis, "shared in common").
Human communities may share intent, belief, resources, preferences, needs, and risks in common, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness
In the United States swimming world we have large and small communities. From the larger USA Swimming organization to the smaller local LSC to the even smaller local swim club we all take some measure of solace knowing we are linked together through a common purpose.
Often we get overly absorbed in our self-importance. This is natural and understandable given the pursuit of achievement our activity engenders: best times, “cuts”, making finals, touching the pad first, being recruited, getting accepted, committing to the college of our (and their) choice. The list is endless, or at least seemingly so most times.
However, often lost in the fray is the humanness of the community in which we reside. Now and then we are acutely reminded that the most important aspect of community is indeed the human connection.
This last week here in Northern California we have received a jolt of reality; swimming is not actually the most important item in our life – let alone how fast we swim. The communities of Sonoma, Santa Rosa, Napa, Calistoga – the list is nearly endless – burned to the ground: Literally.
So many of our swim community have been affected. Loved ones have been lost. Homes and business burned to the ground. It is an ongoing tragedy.
We have not had swim practice for a week. Tough for us but not really. The pools will reopen and the air will be breathable again, sooner than later.
Those who have had their lives turned upside down by the fires are changed forever. We have responded as a larger swim community to those in need. Our hope is that the giving – and the receiving – will remind us that the community is once again – and always – more important than any one of us.
Tough life lesson.