At the start of Miranda July’s short story “The Swim Team,” the narrator doesn’t seem to have much going for her. She’s living in a town not because she wants to but because she doesn’t have the money to move (and she doesn’t want to ask her parents for the money to move). She doesn’t have a car and her job is a lie. She writes her parents letters about how she works for a fabricated educational organization called READ. Overall, it’s safe to say that the narrator is not living purposefully.
Soon, the narrator introduces Elizabeth, Kelda, and Jack Jack. Elizabeth makes a claim about needing to breathe underwater in order to swim. The narrator says that one doesn’t need to breathe underwater in order to swim. The swimming discussion compels the narrator to tell the three about her time on the high school swim team. The narrator’s swimming story gives her the idea to teach the three people how to swim on her kitchen floor.
Now, the narrator has found a purpose. She’s gone from lying about her job to being a swim coach. She’s actually doing something positive. Her swim lessons have a big impact on her students and on her. She is integral. “I kept everything going,” she states.
The swim lessons were only for two hours a week, yet they reshape her and her relationship to the town. Even when she’s not giving swim lessons, she’s thinking about the swim lessons. By the end, the despondent, twenty-something narrator without a clear path in life has transformed into a swim coach.