Swimmer Spotlight – Janelle Miller


Janelle Miller, in a meet in Monterey, CA in 1972

My adventures in swimming began when I was very young, thanks to my parents and to where I grew up.  To not know how to swim in Southern California so close to the beach and with so many pools would be a shame, my parents thought.  As a result, my older brothers and I were enrolled in Red Cross lessons, learning to be safe in the water.  I was proud of my brothers when they came home from summer league meets with  ribbons in hand, documented by my camera-enthusiast father.

We lost beach access when we moved to northern California, but pools were just as prevalent, and of course, all of them were outdoors.  My best childhood memories were of the sun on the water, the smell of chlorine and our very green-blond hair that marked us as ‘swimmers.’  When my brothers began swimming AAU, I wondered why I wasn’t invited.  I must have made enough noise,hence I found my way into the world of competitive swimming at age eight.  Too bad I couldn’t make a full 25 yards without standing up, but you have to start somewhere, right?

I’m not sure how old I was when double workouts set in, but swimming began to define me.  How could it not?  I spent hours in the water, felt the shoulder soreness, and experienced the highs and lows of competition.  I did enjoy swim meets, and posed proudly for Dad in front of my wall of medals and ribbons.  No college recruiters banged down the door,however,so I happily swam for the local junior college.  I began to drift away from all things swimming, realizing there was certainly more to life outside of the pool.  I happily broke with the sport at age 19 with no looking back.

Janelle Miller writes: We were in a wildlife preserve in South Africa & got passes for access to their cheetah. We were told how to act & where to position ourselves while with her. It was amazing! 2018

Janelle Miller writes: We were in a wildlife preserve in South Africa & got passes for access to their cheetah. We were told how to act & where to position ourselves while with her. It was amazing! 2018

But… 31 years later…  Why I started ruminating about the pool again I have no idea.  I was in Oregon.  It was cold and rainy.  Were there even any pools in this state?  And if I could find one, could I give swimming a try again?  How would it feel to be in the water?  Would it be fun?  I located the Oregon City pool and jumped in with the lap swimmers.  I swam a length and smiled as I rested at the wall.  I’m sure it wasn’t pretty but it was glorious nonetheless.  I was so happy.  I think I made it about 20 minutes and immediately bought a monthly pass.  A year passed of renewing/relearning technique and developing strength and endurance.  My eight-year-old self then asked:Why shouldn’t I try MastersSwimming anyway?

Tualatin Hills has been a perfect fit with their beautiful 50-meter pool, noon workouts and great coaches.  I am forever amazed at the ability and attitudes of my teammates.  To all of the busy full-time workers, sleep-deprived parents, speedy pool swimmers, powerful triathletes, and open water fanatics, you greatly inspire me.

I am so glad the water called me back!

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