Senior Leo Bevilacqua bares all in this truly scary account of how a silly graduation requirement can turn into something only Spielberg can come up with for a Jaws sequel.
“I bet you I’m the most jacked one there,” I heard echo down the cavernous Dodge basement hallway to Uris pool. Shrugging it off, I entered the locker room to change into my swimsuit, very ready to cross this requirement off the list.
Once in Uris pool, I realized a collection of unknowns with muscle tees, knuckles dragging on the floors by the deep end and at what I thought at the time was healthy enthusiasm. What I didn’t realize was that it was actually a fierce competition, a byproduct of infamous toxic masculinity. It was as if chocolate Axe bodyspray and testosterone had replaced every atom of oxygen in the dinky, retro pool deck.
Rushing to be in the first group of swim test-takers, I grabbed my CC ’19 towel only to be intercepted (I used a football reference, I guess I really am a Top) by the collection of bro-ey, wrestlers (?). Anyway, we jumped into the pool. It was cold. No surprise there. The first plunge is almost like the sensation of peeing yourself — allowing yourself to succumb to the feelings of humiliation and being unsettled. As a former fat kid, the act of going shirtless is still scarring, but I digress.
Once in the pool, I began to breaststroke (as it is the most luxurious and easy stroke in my opinion). I will note that my breaststroke more closely resembles a doggy paddle, or rather Augustus Gloop right before he drowns in a pool of chocolate. Anyway, it’s a swim test, not a competition by any means. But try telling that to the broskis in my lane. Let’s just say that my anxiety level rose tremendously three ‘strokes’ into my test as I realized the bros had begun to race each other, splashing like they were in a synchronized swim team or in a synchronized swim number in Glee. Their meaty hands hit my feet as they zoomed ahead of me, circling me like a bloated tuna fish, which, frankly, is how I felt.
Anxious, I felt desperate to prove myself so I actually broke a sweat trying to catch up (gasp!). I know I unintentionally got a workout — something you won’t catch me doing in my P.E. requirement. So, my breathless ass which has been unaccustomed to swimming for some time tried to achieve Alpha Male status. I felt a biological shift in my body – like Peter Parker when he got bit by the radioactive spider. I felt fierce but whatever the hetero version of that is: buff? I don’t know.
Getting out of the pool, I dried off and re-entered the locker room determined to thirst trap. It just felt right. The spider venom, or rather bionic testosterone was surging, and there was no going back. Back in my dorm, the *extra* photoshoot commenced. Days later, I found myself drinking a 40 on Low Steps, sending ‘you up?’ texts and talking about my ab routine. The horror.