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Berit Ramstad Skoyles: Being the new girl – even on the home team

When I came home from Chile, I realized that I was a different person. 

Not a massively different person, mind you, but one who is ready to experience new things: new friends, new interests and a new look on life.

With that in mind, I decided to try something completely different in my choice of a fall sport. Instead of my usual sport of cross country, I joined the swim team.

On my first day of practice I was a bit timid because I didn’t know anybody. Then I realized that I had done this all before — it was exactly like being an exchange student. And boy, did I feel like an exchange student again.

I knew one girl on the team and almost everyone else stared at me like I was some sort of alien. As far as I know, I don’t have 10 heads so I concluded that I was simply the new girl that nobody knew.

As the weeks of practice have gone by, I noticed that I am no longer the new girl; I am now the weird-in-a-good-way new girl who fits in perfectly. My off-pitch rendition of “Silent Night” is accepted, and my childish dancing is appreciated as much as it can be.

My first meet was interesting. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing or what events I was swimming. When it was my turn to swim, someone would push me up to the starting blocks and repeat to me what I was swimming. (While practicing relays before meets I have the tendency to swim the wrong stroke. Let’s just say that I need all the reassurance that I can get.)

After the first meet, I was fine. I now understand more of what’s going on and I actually get to the starting blocks all by myself. Impressive, I know.

Although my teammates still remind me which stroke I should swim, I am filled with joy to know that I have teammates who care enough about me to make the effort to make sure that I swim the right stroke. They either care about me or they don’t want me to be disqualified... It’s most likely the second option, but I’ll still be joyful and say they care about me.

By now I have my usual events. The breaststroke in the 200 medley relay, the 50 freestyle, the 200 freestyle relay and the 100 breaststroke. With every meet, my times drop and I get closer to the times that will get me to the section meet. The only event that I’m actually close to qualifying in is the 50 free, but that’s good enough for me. With only a handful of meets left, I’m hoping to drop two seconds and secure my section time.

I can’t decide what my favorite part of swimming is. Is it the team? Or that fact that I actually enjoy going to meets and practices? The only conclusion I can think of is both. I love the team. I love the energy of the team, how we all get along, and all of our random shenanigans. I couldn’t imagine being a part of any other team at the meets. (Or anywhere else for that matter.)

Before the meets start, we scream our lungs out to promote the Lakers. Throughout the Section, we’re known as the strangest team. All of the other teams look at us like we’re crazy; funny, but the truth is that we are crazy. We’re crazy and we like to show it off.

From being the new girl to becoming simply Berit, or even Berta, I know that I’ve found the right team for me. I feel as if I’ve been part of this team for years, when in reality I’ve only known these girls for a little over a month.

The transition to being a DLHS student again has been challenging, and I am very happy that the girls on the swim team are helping to make the transition just a little easier.

Berit Ramstad Skoyles is a junior at Detroit Lakes High School.