Three years ago the original idea for the AQuaMarathon was to give some swim students
a final exam. Members of the AQuality group would swim the eight hours of the event in
relay teams, while instructor Marco Antonio Zapata would swim non-stop the entire time.
This was planned as a private event, just for the members of AQuality. But in asking
permission to use their training pool for longer than the normal one hour allotment
time, the organizers were told they had to allow other students and swimmers to enter
also or there would be no AQuaMarathon.
Rather than disappoint his students, who were excited about the whole idea, Marco
agreed to conditions and the first AQuaMarathon was held in July 2012. Everyone had
fun and I could hardly talk by the end of the event because of cheering so much. Other
instructors and students noticed how well the young swimmers of AQuality moved in the
water even after only a few months of lessons.
Perhaps the jealousies arising after this event contributed to the difficulties the
AQuality group encountered the following year. Marco was an independent instructor, not
on staff at the pool. He insisted on courtesy, respect for others, discipline, and the
mastering of basic strokes before moving on to a new phase. He taught proper techniques
in order to help his students feel like a part of the water, not to simply go out and
splash around in a struggle to get from one end of the pool to the other.
After months of dealing with immature behavior by pool staff and management, AQuality
found a new home. Team members were able to swim in pools both indoors and out, gaining
valuable experience for these different conditions. Students also learned how to focus
in what can only be called a rude pool, with no lane dividers and no enforced rules for
other swimmers. Travel time became a problem for some, who had to give up their sport.
But the second AQuaMarathon was held in July 2013 and those students who were able to
participate had fun and demonstrated their ability to overcome obstacles.
Life being what it is, there were more changes in 2014 for AQuality. Distance and
economics finally defeated even the warrior swimmers, and when the time came for this
year’s AQuaMarathon, there were no students to take the final exam. So Marco sent an
invitation, asking everyone to do something special on the chosen day, July 26. Then he
and I went to a hotel for a weekend getaway and Marco swam laps in the pool for 8 hours
non-stop, using all four strokes: freestyle, butterfly, breast, and back.
And me? I watched, took pictures and videos, played solitaire (a LOT of solitaire) and
wondered what has happened to common sense in this world. Because if I were going to
get into a pool, ANY pool, and saw someone consistently doing laps in one section of
the water, common sense and courtesy would keep me out of that person’s way and in my
own area of the pool. Yet time and again on that day, other swimmers risked injury
by allowing themselves or their toys to drift into Marco’s path. Since we had known
this would be part of the challenge for the day, Marco was alert and changed the timing
of his strokes when necessary to avoid collisions.
I was a nervous wreck by the end of the eight hours, but Marco was happy with his time
in the water and probably could have gone on swimming until the pool closed six hours
later. That might be our goal next year, depending on what happens with AQuality in the
meantime. We are looking for a new home…..and I need a new deck of cards.
Debbie Zapata ~~ August 14, 2014