July 23, 2011, Arlington, Va.: After blogging about summertime swims and a bike ride back to my old home, I knew there was one place I’d have to revisit during this project. I would have to return to the one place that mattered most to my family during our time in Arlington in the early 80s, and that place was Overlee pool.
If I didn’t go today, I’d miss the moment. This morning marked the last home swim meet of the season — against Chesterbrook, nonetheless, Overlee’s biggest rivalry back in the 80s. I was curious to see if the rivalry still existed, and to find out if Overlee would live up to the hype I’d created for it in my memory. I’ve long imagined Overlee to be a place of intense spirit and energy, a place with an unwavering sense of community. I wondered if it would feel small thirty years later, maybe less meaningful and more subdued.
I’m proud to say Overlee did not disappoint.
Clues from the moment I arrived signaled things had stayed the same. Cars bearing team flags packed the streets for blocks, many adorned with messages scribbled on windows that read, ‘Bad to the bone’ or ‘Eat my bubbles.’
Inside, team cheers drowned out blaring music. “I said a BOOM chicka boom…” and “This. Is. Our. House!” reverberated across the pool deck. Banners made by young swimmers flanked all sides of the pool, many thanking the teenage “senior” swimmers for their years of competition. Children were covered from head to toe in gold paint. The wooden deck full of spectators overlooking the pool, where I’d previously watched so many swim meets, met for pep rallies, and tossed water balloons, was a sea of orange. And perfect timing: Relays were just getting started.
Like the good old days, I saw some great swimming this morning. Kids were out-touched at the finish. There was an impromptu dance party.
And just like the good old days, Overlee beat out Chesterbrook for the Division 1 title.
See photos below from nearly 30 years ago combined with photos from this morning!