On Coming Home

After two months in London, I finally went swimming at the London Aquatics Centre just a five-minute walk from my dorm. Walking into the 2012 Olympic pool was incredibly…familiar. That’s not to say that I’m used to swimming in Olympic pools – I’m barely familiar with the 50m pool that’s standard throughout the world. Since it’s British, some of the lanes swim clockwise (stick to the left) which any American swimmer can tell you is insane – when I say familiar, I mean the smell of chlorine and my comfort in buoyancy. After swimming all my life, I’m at ease in the water, like being cradled by its coolness and finding a much-needed home.

When asked about my study abroad, I tell people, ‘like any Dartmouth term, it has its ups and downs’ and pick a favorite place I visited or musical or play that I saw. But what I leave out are all the days I spent alone, often wishing I was at Dartmouth or with family in Naperville. I talk about my 20,000+ step days traversing European cities and leave out the 200 step days when I barely left my bed. Somewhere in between those days, I forced myself out and made it into the water, thinking all the while about all the people I would return to and the club swim team here.

Of course, being at Dartmouth does not mean ‘good’. Now that I’m back on campus, I’m stupid-busy every day, and this place is far from perfect. But now I can escape for an hour or two for club swim practice to seek out the people who make Dartmouth a home for me. To the friends who supported me while I was away and those who welcomed me home, thank you. For my friends away this winter, it’s okay to be unhappy and for your away-term to fall short of unrealistic expectations. I hope you find a bit of home wherever you are. And to everyone on campus, we practice Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. We’d love to see you at the pool.

– Michael


Michael Sun is a ’19 and one of our team’s coaches. His hobbies include casual swimming and ordering unhealthy items at the HOP.