Blue will always be the feeling I get when I think of Dzana Ashworth and Doug Rubenstein. Not that “blue” feeling you get when trudging through foot upon foot of February snow. But the serenity and comfort you feel looking at a crystal blue ocean with a warm breeze on your face.
“The moment I feel the most calm is after I dive in and before I come up for the first stroke. Because I know ‘Okay I’m in [the water], I’m in this, I’m doing it, there’s no stopping.’” Dzana and I are sitting in the pub talking about this past swim season and how she prepares before a race. Even though I’m recording our conversation, it still feels like it’s just me and my best friend reflecting on the season. This is the patterned-clad goddess I see every day in our common room. This is one of the captains that helped me through my first time swimming for a team. This is the senior that I met in September and feel like I’ve known my entire Sarah Lawrence career.
We continue our conversation and she comes to the realization that all her favorite shades of blue have to deal with water. She’s been swimming for Sarah Lawrence since her first year on campus but, in that moment, found the connection to the rest of her life. She then jumps into a story about how even though she didn’t necessarily experience the blue of chlorinated water in high school, she has always spent lots of time in water. “I grew up in Portland where my house is on a river. And the ocean is one of my favorite places. Even though I don’t go there very often.” She scrunches up her face and gives me a classic Dzana giggle: loud and unapologetic.
I can see her Moonboots peaking out from under the table and am instantly reminded of her personal style. Wrap dresses and Sarah Lawrence athletic wear are staples in her wardrobe. She wears Wolverine crop-tops and teal/neon pink leopard print leggings like they’re her own skin. She masterfully mixes subtle (and not so subtle) patterns with bright colors and doesn’t even think twice about it. The swim caps and suits that I’ve become accustomed to seeing almost every day for six months are no exception. Sometimes I find myself staring at her clothes and thinking, “How the hell does she do that?” But her style fits her personality to perfection. She is an extroverted, passionate woman with a laid-back outlook on life.
This is one of the reasons she made such a fabulous captain on the swim team. Learning how to do a flip turn in my own lane instead of doing what everyone else was doing made me feel secluded from the team. Yet, I could count on Dzana to support me after practice on our walk home together.
Dzana wasn’t the only captain who gave me their full support. Doug, also a senior, kept me motivated to become the best swimmer I could in one season. I don’t remember how we met, but if it weren’t for swim team, I would not have bonded so deeply with such a generous, kind-hearted friend as him. Doug was one of the founding members of the Sarah Lawrence men’s swim team. This means that he’s been a part of the team since his first year on campus. He kept the team motivated to keep practicing and thought it was important “to warm down in a more fun, mermaid-like fashion and really remind ourselves why we decide to spend so many hours a day in the water in the first place.”
Like Dzana, Doug is passionate but still maintains an effortless air about him. That is clearly reflected in the clothing he chooses to put on every day. He’s a minimalist addicted to earth tones, leather bags and scarves. His drawers are full of stripes and burgundy (also some great harem pants). His caps are brightly colored and his suits are adorned with hibiscus flowers and sunsets. He keeps his look extremely simple but ask him about a garment he’s wearing and he can tell you where he got it, why he got it, and a story during which he was wearing it. Doug creates relationships with his clothing; if that’s not passion, I don’t know what is.
I asked Doug if he has a favorite shade of blue and his response was, “There are so many shades of blue that coexist simultaneously that you can never keep up with how fast they change. I think that’s great. That is, in itself, the water or the pool.” He was standing in his bathroom, cutting our teammate’s hair the day after the swim season ended. Sure, we were all feeling sentimental about the water that day, but it was the way his voice lowered and the pause he gave before answering that convinced me that he was truly in love with the water. He then looked at me and smiled that heart-warming smile the entire team has grown to love. Simple. Encouraging. That’s Doug Rubenstein.
I’ve never been part of a group of people that has been as supportive, hilarious, and genuinely spirited as the Sarah Lawrence swim team. Blue is being in a pool with 20 of your closest friends everyday. Blue is finding your center before stepping up on the blocks. Blue is lasting friendships and an unforgettable experience.
STYLING: Geneva Rose/Natalie Grieco
INTERVIEW: Geneva Rose
PHOTO: Isabel Farrington
ACCESSORIES: CHAOS NY