This past week on DCI.org, we've been examining the similarities and differences between drum corps and athletics. Precision, timing and rhythm are hallmarks of both swimming and drum corps, according to rook-out (first year/age out) Crossmen pit member Lauren Davis, who is a sprint swimmer at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania. "For swimming, the strokes have rhythm and everything works together to keep the body moving and make it to the end of the race," Davis said. "For drum corps, rhythm is key to keep the music going and keep everyone together with tempo. The more perfect and fluid the actions are, the better the performance is. There are so many connections between sports and drum corps," Davis said.
Davis is a senior studying music education with a concentration in percussion, and her main swimming stroke is freestyle. "I have won first place in my races such as the 50- and 100-meter freestyle. I am basically a sprinter. Long distance, even though I can handle it, is not my forte in the water," Davis said. Mentally, Davis approaches swimming and drum corps in a similar fashion. "I approach each activity with the same mindset, considering that I want to do my best for each," Davis said. "I want to improve each time I swim a lap or do a flip turn, or play a passage, or show technique. Both activities are completely different but yet they are so similar in the way things are thought through, precisely to get the specifics right. The mindset has to be right and one has to be 100 percent focused on the task at hand. I always had trouble keeping my mind on one thing, but I am always doing my best. I try to focus on what I need to do and have fun at the same time," Davis said. Davis also noted that both activities require different degrees of coordination. "Swimming takes so much more coordination to keep kicking, moving your arms, keep a constant breath pattern and keep the pace to the end," Davis said. "Drum corps is similar, but as for me, I am in the pit, so the coordination it takes to play, move around and get the notes right is totally different than swimming a length or so of a pool." Davis continued, "There are many similarities between drum corps and collegiate sports. First of all they are both competitive "sports." Both are physically demanding yet personally fulfilling. Both take up so much energy and mind power of the body to keep going. The body has to be physically fit at all times to keep up, as to not fall behind in the competition. There is always something new to be learned and there is always another way to do strokes, dives, mallet technique, stance. One needs to find what works well ... to accomplish what needs to be done," Davis said. Davis endures a two-hour swimming practice every afternoon, while swim meets occur on Saturdays. Crossmen camps and swim meets rarely conflict, Davis said, although she did miss a meet recently to attend camp. Her coach understood. "My swim coach is like the team's mother and she understands that we have other commitments in life and we need to live every moment of our life to do what our hearts desire," Davis said. "I don't think there is ever really a problem with the conflicts. Even though I love to swim and I know I always will, my heart belongs to music. My coaches know where am in my goal to teach music and be totally involved with music in my life, so they allow me to miss the events when something as important as drum corps is happening. My decision never causes problems and my coach enjoys hearing every detail of my experience when I get back from camp weekends," Davis said. Lest her swim teammates question her dedication, Davis can point to her four varsity letters as proof of her allegiance. Likewise, she'll receive an LVC athletic watch this spring, awarded for her devotion to her sport, her teammates and coaches. Davis said the "family-like" atmosphere of both activities is similar. "In sports (especially swimming) and drum corps, the community that gathers is none other than one huge family. There are friendships, but there is also drama. The coach/instructor may become a parent figure. These are people that the members will never forget. They are friends and memories for life. The swim team shirt I have from last year says, "The Best things about swim team ... have nothing to do with swimming." It all comes from the heart and the hard work one puts into the activity. Friendships, encouragement, laughter and success come out of putting your all into the activity you love to do. Sometimes there are rough times but the good times are the ones to remember and cherish," Davis said. Davis' teammates are likewise enthusiastic about her Crossmen life. "Some of my fellow athletes know about my drum corps career and they are very excited for me. They really have no idea how the whole program of drum corps works. They just nod their head and listen to what I am saying even though they have no idea," Davis said. On the other hand, "Some of my corpsmates know about my swimming career. They know that I swim and that I swim well, sometimes pulling in a first place. I have not really shared much about swimming to my corpsmates," Davis said. Davis plans to teach music in the future. However, "I will always be a swimmer. There are times when I just want to swim," Davis said.
Lauren Davis (right) hugs her swim coach after a recent meet.