John Hall was born in Manhattan, New York on July 15, 1998. John lived in New York City for a couple years before moving to New Jersey. John started swimming when he turned 11, because his younger brother has started swimming and he wanted to join. He is a sophomore at Dartmouth, and he swims sprint freestyle.
Cultural Context: In many sports, and life in general, people will do or wear things that they think can help. Even though the superstition may do nothing, it gives the person a sense of reassurance and confidence.
Social Context: The data was collected in a one on one interview in Baker-Berry library. John described a superstition and tradition he did with a friend on the days of swim meets. The folklore was created to help bring good luck before the meet. He started doing his superstition in 7th grade, and has continued to do it since then.
John would wear the same shoes for every meet until he did bad. Once he did bad, he would go purchase new shoes to wear for meets until he did bad in the new shoes. He has done this with his friend for years.
Image of Flip Flops (Deck Shoes):
“Starting in 7th grade, my friend and I bought the same flip flops for a summer swim meet. We wore them to every meet until we did bad in the meet, then we would switch to wearing a different pair of shoes on the day of the meet. As soon as we did bad, we would switch to a new pair, to help bring good luck. The bad shoes would still be worn, just not during swim meets. “
I thought it would be expensive to maintain, but deck shoes are only a couple of bucks.
Paul Cane was born in the UCLA hospital, on May 31, 1997. Paul has lived in California his whole life. Paul started swimming when he was eight, and changed to a year-round swimmer when he started his freshman year. He is a junior swimmer at Dartmouth College, but went to Georgetown his freshman year before transferring.
Cultural Context: The cultural context of this folklore represents the rituals people do to make sure they are prepared for their sport. In swimming, goggles become very foggy quickly, and it can make it hard to see when you race. There are certain ways to help it so that it does not get foggy.
Social Context: The data was collected during a one on one interview in Baker-Berry library. Paul described a ritual he performed back when he first started swimming. He actually started the ritual himself, and spread the folklore to all his friends who were swimming at the time.
Paul would lick the inside of his goggles before every race. He did this so that his goggles would not fog, and he shared it among all his friends and teammates.
Image of Paul’s Swim Cap and Goggles:
“It sounds kinda gross, but when I get on the blocks, whether they are foggy or not, I will lick the inside of my goggles I wear every week to make sure they are clear and I can see. This ritual before races started because one time when I was 10, I didn’t do it, my goggles fogged up, and I couldn’t see. So since then, I have done it ever since. I instantly told all my friends that licking the goggles would make sure they would not fog up, and they started doing it too. Since then, my friends and I will always lick my goggles before I race.”
This superstition seems like an example of James Frazer’s practical magic, and an example of substituting magic where the actual scientific cause is unknown. Apparently, there is some scientific basis for saliva working like a barrier against moisture forming on the goggles, so the magic superstition does have some scientific basis.
Tony Shen was born in Mountain View, California on June 25, 1996. Tony has stayed in California his whole life, only moving once to a city close to where he was born. Tony started swimming when he was eight years old, because he wanted to try something new and not be lazy. Tony is a senior at Dartmouth College, and is wrapping up his swimming career forever in a week. After graduation, Tony is working at PWC.
Cultural Context: The high stress levels of swimming can be a lot for people, so having something to do that helps take your mind off of the meet to come is helpful.
Social Context: This superstition was recorded during a one on one interview on the bus ride to Ivy League Championships. Tony described a ritual that he does the week leading up to his big meets. Tony noted that another member of the Dartmouth Swim Team, Jimmy Patrick, also participates in this ritual with Tony. Ever since trying it Tony’s sophomore year, and Jimmy’s freshman year, it has been something to get their minds off of racing so they can relax.
Tony and his teammate, Jimmy, check the markets eight times a day the week before a big swim meet.
Image of iPhone Stocks App:
“The week leading up to our big swim meets, Jimmy and I find it imparrative to maintain mental fluidity and stability. To accomplish this, we check the markets, at least eight times per day. We find that this activity both sharpens our wits, as well as takes our mind off of the meet to come. Since we started doing this, it has helped me perform better in every swim meet.”
It seems kind of crazy, but being financially aware is such a big part of Dartmouth culture, so we’re able to distract ourselves from tense meets by focusing on this other big part of Dartmouth culture.
It seems as if this superstition reflects Freud’s theory of folklore being a sublimation of our subconcious neurotic behaviors. Checking the markets 8 times a day certainly seems neurotic, but by satisfying this other part of the subconscious, they don’t have to worry about the tension of swimming.
Informant Data: Wyatt Smith ’19 is a 20-year-old male caucasian light-weight rower from Hong Kong. He is a long-time rower, having rowed competitively before Dartmouth, and was recruited to Dartmouth’s D150 Lightweight Rowing team.
Social Context: Races are incredibly competitive for lightweight rowing, mainly because the team competes directly with other college teams and because all the weekly practices/weight cutting is in preparation for these races. To relieve the pressure, and celebrate the completion of a season, rowers all join together to observe Sprints Night.
Cultural Context: Sprints Night is a regular ritual that occurs every year after the New England Championships to celebrate the ending of another successful season and to build team unity. It is observed by all members of D150 and is passed down from each generation to the next.
Item: This item is a customary piece of folklore that focuses on the passing down of a ritual that is suppose to help build team unity and celebrate the conclusion of another successful racing season. It is customary because it is a single practiced ritual that happens every year in the same way that involves many different people within the folk group. It is folklore because it is performed by all the members of this folkgroup and celebrates their commonalities.
Transcript (8:49 – 8:58):
WS: “We have a thing called Sprints Night which is after our New England Championships, where we have a sort of, like a big team party, get-together.”
BC: “And that also happens like every single year after the last championships…”
WS: “Every year, yeah.”
Sprints Night is very similar to Freshmen Fun Night in that the sharing and passing down of this ritual focuses on all members of the folk group. All members of D150 crew participate in this ritual and it helps remind them of who they are and why they are similar to each other (celebrating the end of their common season). This also reinforces the ritual itself because a stronger more unified team is more likely to want to participate in these pan-folk group rituals and to preserve them.