Amherst Magazine

Oh Say Can You Swim

By Emily Gold Boutilier

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The Glee Clubbers wore swim trunks on the bottom, white vests and bow ties on top.

“It was colder than we expected, yes,” says Alex Speir ’11, who, with fellow Glee Club members, jumped into shallow water at Pratt Pool on a Saturday in February to sing the National Anthem at the start of a home swim meet.

The idea came about after Glee Club Director Mallorie Chernin told Speir, the club’s 2009 president, that the swim-sing used to be a tradition. On performance day, the club warmed up in the men’s locker room, alongside students dressing for practice or the gym. “We got a lot of strange looks,” says Ben Lin ’12, who, along with Speir and the current president, Rohan Mazumdar ’12, organized the performance.

The men wore swim trunks on the bottom, white vests and bow ties (part of their concert attire) on top. (After show time, a club member washed all of the vests and ties, hoping to head off chlorine damage.) “The acoustics were amazing,” Lin says, “although I don’t know if they were amazing in a good way or a bad way: everything echoed.”

The singing brought good luck to the Amherst swimmers and divers, who didn’t need it: they won 29 of 32 events that day against Springfield College, with Kendra Stern ’11 setting a new Pratt Pool record in the 500-yard freestyle. For one Glee Club junior, there was an added benefit. “I was in class the other day,” he wrote in an e-mail to his clubmates, “and this girl was like, ‘Did you guys sing at the swim meet? You were amazing! Here’s my phone number.’ Moral of the story: we need to perform with less clothes more often.”

Photo by Jessica Mestre '10