Tailgate for Swimming: Watergate

Snowy Iowa winters are rarely associated with outdoor grilling, water gun fights, and kiddie pools. This year, however, a group of Ames High students are determined to refute this generalization by tailgating before all the home boys’ swim meets in the coming months. Watergate, a concept originally created by members of the class of 2011, will be planned and executed by seniors Martha Ryan and Jessica Jacobson and junior Zeynab Ghandour. Ryan, who participated in cross country and marching band during football season, said she did not have time to participate in Team Tailgate earlier this year. “The seniors last year originally came up with the idea,” Ryan said. “I decided to organize Watergate because I really liked the idea and thought we needed tailgating year-round.” Ryan said that Watergate will stay true to its aquatic roots by adapting several tailgating traditions to the theme “water.” “We’re going to boil a lot of food,” Ryan. “I think we’re going to try to make bagels before the first home meet. We’re also going to fill a kiddie pool up with warm water and have water gun fights with guns filled with warm water.” Ghandour said the Watergaters will wear Richard Nixon masks while tailgating instead of the “Team Tailgate” shirts preferred by their autumn compatriots. “We thought it’d be fun to buy Nixon masks online for around $12 apiece,” Ghandour said. “That way, we wouldn’t have to worry about t-shirts and people would know who we were when they arrive at home meets.” Ryan said one challenge Watergaters may face is the bitter cold, especially later in the season. “We originally thought we could tailgate inside the pool complex,” Ryan said. “Now our plan is to either dress warmly while we tailgate in the parking lot or wear full-body wet suits to stay in the spirit of ‘water.’” Ryan added that bringing the kiddie pool and cooking implements to boil food with might also prove challenging on snowy evenings. She does not think the cold weather will stop Watergaters from having fun while also celebrating the swim team’s success. With the first home swim meet against Mason City on Monday, November 28, just a few weeks away, Ryan, Ghandour, and Jacobson said they will now focus on recruiting upperclassmen to join them in the parking lot before cheering on the boys’ swim team. “We want everyone to be involved in Watergate,” Jacobson said. “We hope to get a lot of people by putting posters up in the hall in the next few weeks.” Jacobson said she hopes Watergate will become a permanent fixture on the long list of Ames High athletic traditions.