Community Spotlight: Abbie Fish

Community Spotlight: Abbie Fish

Meet Abbie (They/Them), the founder of a virtual swim coaching business who started their aquatic journey at 5 years old, later attempting to join the U.S. Olympic Swim Team in college. Read as amid struggles with identity, their coaching career began and a transformative moment came, prompting their own coming out journey and eventual embrace of their queer identity and pronouns.

Tell us about yourself, who is Abbie?
Abbie (They/Them). I run my own virtual swim coaching business called Swim Like A Fish ( www.swimlikeafish.org). My mom was a water safety instructor and shortly after using me as the demonstration baby during her 'Mommy and Me' classes, I decided to start competitively swimming at 5 years old. I capped off my own personal swimming career at the University of Georgia, where I tried out for the U.S. Olympic Swim Team in 6 different events.
As a college athlete, I struggled with coming out. It was something I hid for a very long time. I was extremely nervous about my reputation and how I may be 'viewed' and labeled, and my mental health and my own personal swimming started deteriorating because of it. After retiring, I found myself on the other side of the pool deck now coaching children on how to swim. 
During this time of my coming out struggle, I was living in Key Largo, FL and I flew directly home to be with my sister and her husband as their daughter was diagnosed with cancer at just 2 years old with a low survival rate. No one in my family knew at the time the battles I was fighting internally. I remember walking up and down the pediatric cancer ward feeling like I can't continue to stay strong for everyone else, when I'm crumbling myself. I promised myself and all the children in the hospital that I would go live my life to the fullest - in honor of the ones who didn't get the chance to. It was an extremely emotional time for me being there and as someone who has bottled their emotions up consistently - that was my breaking point.
Shortly there after, I came out to my parents and was in my first real relationship. It's been a journey since the beginning, as I've changed how I identify and what pronouns I use. I felt like I was trying on clothes and figuring out what fit the best. Now, I'm super proud of my queer identity and they/them pronouns make me go to bed with a smile on my face.

When do you feel like your most authentic self?
When I don't live up to anyone expectations but mine. I feel like I'm very aware of my ability to code switch and change how I am based on the environment I am in, but if I truly in my element and being "Abbie Fish" - I stay in my lane regardless of what I am doing.
My short hair cut is a huge part of how I identify and it is an extension of my personality. When I was younger, I would keep my hair long to avoid hurting my mother's feelings in the future as she did not like it. I really do feel like that decision was the start of me hiding who I truly was. Now, at 28, I don't ever plan on having long hair again!

Existing as a queer person in the US is becoming increasingly more difficult. How do you remain positive in today's climate?
I keep a very close 'chosen family'. As cliche as that saying is in the queer world, I think it's extremely important. My job and career path puts me around more white, cis-gendered men than any other part of my world, so I do feel a disconnect between my professional life and my personal life - which is why I keep seek out queer community so heavily in my personal life. It's nice to be able to have a conversation with someone who understands bathroom anxiety and checking while traveling to new countries and states, their restrictions and laws.
It really is a sad the current state of times that we are living in because as much as I'd love everyone to be 'out and proud' - I can definitely understand how the climate in the USA would make someone hide further. I don't often speak publicly about my story, but I do on occasion because I feel a duty to do it for all the people who are out there that need that boost of confidence and encouragement to find their authentic selves too.

What is most important to you when shopping for clothing that makes you feel comfortable and confident?
How it feels! I'm a huge fan of light-weight clothing and clothes that are really soft. I often find shopping a huge endeavor for me because I shop on both sides of the store: men and women's, so it's nice when something is gender-neutral because it saves me time and anxiety around which department I'm currently shopping in. I do feel at the end of the day all clothes are gender neutral and should be, so I love HumanKind's message and it's impact it's making on the swimming community. A community I love so dearly!


What are your favorite products from Humankind?
I love my 5' swim trunks. Who doesn't love a good 5' short right now anyways? haha. I got the all black ones, so I do wear them outside the pool as well. They are light-weight, comfortable, and easy to wear for leisure as well.