KELSO — Swimmers always have some time to kill before a meet starts.
At a meet the size of the Kelso Invitational, which features 16 teams and more than 100 swimmers, there’s plenty of waiting around in between heats also.
What better way to burn some of that time than drawing? The canvas of choice for many of the girls’ swim teams: each other.
On a shoulder, a leg, across the small of the back, pull out a permanent marker and get to work.
Several of Prairie’s girls had ornate flowers scrawled across their shoulder blades and arms. Other swimmers had inspirational messages; one Washougal swimmer had a dozen inscriptions written in the space on her back her swimsuit didn’t cover.
It’s a way to show personality. Volleyball players have their celebrations, softball players have their chants, swimmers have their art.
“It’s so cool to see what everyone else has,” Fort Vancouver senior McKenna Ellen said.
The best Ellen and her fellow Trappers have seen was a full rainbow-colored backpiece donned by a Hudson’s Bay swimmer last year.
The pieces can be extravagant or simple: fish are a common subject. The same messages pop up frequently, too.
“Just keep swimming,” a quote from the movie “Finding Nemo” is a meet staple.
“Eat my bubbles,” another Pixar flick quote, is one of Ellen’s favorites.
On Saturday, it was “Angry Angie” — for Kelso freshman Angie Eugenis — and “Eagle Born, Eagle Bred” on a Hudson’s Bay swimmer that stood out.
October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, there were also plenty of pink ribbons drawn on shoulders.
While Fort Vancouver sophomore Monique Romero didn’t have her ribbon drawn on for anyone in particular, it’s a way for her to show support to a cause.
“It makes me feel like I’m out here swimming for a purpose,” she said.
Not every drawing, though, has meaning.
“We were just bored,” Prairie freshman Claudia Newman said of the beautiful flowers drawn by teammate Madilee Roscoe.
After all, it only takes a Sharpie permanent marker, one already being used to transcribe heat and lane numbers onto arms and legs, to make a piece of art that will last through in the chlorine-filled, hot and humid confines of Gaither Pool.
“Sometimes, it will even last a few days,” Romero said.
Not bad for the time-killing favored hobby of swimmers.