In high school, I was on the swim team. I look back and marvel at those days for many reasons: The twice daily workouts, the amount of time spent with one group of girls, the rigid regimen of swim/school/swim/homework, the stress of competition and the glorious tradition of Guppy Gifts.
Ah, Guppy Gifts. I just did a Google search of Guppy Gifts, and all I came up with were sites where you could purchase mugs or t-shirts for an actual guppy enthusiast. So I will explain: A “Guppy” is just like a Secret Santa. Everyone in the group is assigned a person to whom they anonymously give gifts. For Guppies, one gives their Guppy a gift prior to every swim meet, and then there is a big reveal at the end of the season.
I was born to be a Guppy, as was my swimming BFF Katy. I think we were more excited about making our Guppy Gifts than swim meets, homecoming, or prom… combined. Each year, we would go “Guppy shopping” and buy anything that met any of the following criteria: yellow and blue (our school colors), fish shaped, and/or motivational (yes, I’m talking Successories at the mall). We were well-armed with our themed items, tons of markers, glitter, balloons, streamers and extreme team spirit. We took this inspirational cheerleading so seriously, I think we could have Guppy-d someone right out of a coma.
A typical gift was a food item, a big card or glorious locker sign and maybe a little toy of some sort. The idea was not to spend much on each gift, but Katy and I paid as little attention to that as possible. Pumping someone up before a swim meet is serious business! What we didn’t spend in money, we definitely spent in time. We would often be up until 1 am making fish shaped cookies, muffins (yes, we had a fish shaped muffin tin) or Rice Crispie treats. Hours were spent making signs with block letters, inspirational phrases and drawings of swimmers. We would put goal times on the posters in glitter. It was unbridled enthusiasm. Unbridled!
I remember encountering one tragic Guppy roadblock. One year, we had planned to give mini shampoos and conditioners – travel sizes to fit neatly into a swim bag to take to meets. Only the night before did we remember that Katy’s Guppy was undergoing chemotherapy. We went into a fits of crying and panicking, then rushed to a 24 hour Walgreens to replace those horrendously insensitive items with some body wash and Swedish Fish. Crisis averted, but whew. It was close.
It was so great seeing your Guppy discover their gift in the locker room, and thrilling to walk by their locker to see the awesome sign that you stealthily posted before school. Getting Guppy Gifts was awesome, too. My true joy was in the giving, but it was just so nice to have a consistent cheerleader. It’s an all around brilliant system of support and good clean fun. Swim meets were very stressful and competitive, but having something lighthearted and fun (even though we took it up a notch or two) like Guppies really took the edge off. It just made all of us feel really good, and was great for team morale.
So here I am in the present, and life has gotten WAY more stressful than it was in high school. Swim meets that I used to cry over and lose sleep over are now the good old days. I had so much support from everyone else who was going through the same thing, and we had so much fun. A stressful meet was always accompanied by a cheerful inspirational message and a snack! Wouldn’t that be nice before a big meeting or a job interview? Before a big project or a difficult case? Before your huge exams or auditions? We still have tons of support and cheerleading from our families and groups of friends… But how about putting fun signs on people’s cars in the morning? Anyone up for Giggler Gifts? We have to be our own cheerleaders, but we can also support each other.
Let’s keep being relentless cheerleaders for each other in this adult life. I think this website is a phenomenal place for us to cheer one another on, and a great source of support for one another. I mean, just look at love between the co-founders!
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