The Swim

No it’s not a race re-cap. I hate race re-caps. They all sound the same…they might as well have the same sentences with a drop-down menu – “The swim was…. (pick one)  EASY, Choppy, Sucky, I DNFed”.

I cannot recall truly my first time in a pool or lake, but I know my parents made sure I was comfortable in water. There are family photos. Me in the row-boat at two or three with a life-vest on, fishing with my dad. Me at Lake Erie with my cousins playing in the warm, shallow waves and going out FAR from my worrying mom on my dad’s shoulders to a sand-bar to where I was able to stand up and the water barely coming up to my knees.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a small community with a pool that was open from Memorial day to Labor Day. Six days a week you could find me there with my friends, sisters and my dad, who worked for extra money as an assistant manager. He trained the high school lifeguards (I started noticing how cute they were in 4th grade!), and I helped him vacuum, skim out the bugs and plop in the chorine tablets after hours. Lunch was maybe a peanut butter sandwich my mom had packed and as much penny candy from the concession stand as 25 cents could buy (actually 25 pieces of candy!) Sunday evenings we would have a late dinner, wait until dark and swim naked.  It was the most wonderful of times.

As I became older, and we moved from that little community, dad participated in a fitness program at the local University. He swam laps at lunch and ran before or after work. Sometimes I got to go with him to swim. These were pre-goggle days. The lunch-time lap swimmers logged in their mileage and I practiced holding my breath from one end of the pool to the other.

Out neighbors to the back of us had an in-ground pool that us kids were allowed to use if we helped keep it clean (their kids were grown and gone). These were the days before automated vacuums-and I painstakingly would move the giant pole across the floor of the pool, sucking up all the yuck and then cleaning the filter afterwards. It was hard work for a ten, eleven year old, but my reward was great. I got to swim! Sometimes I was over there for hours-many times by myself, my mom checking on me from her kitchen window on the hill as she did dishes, cooked, or worked in her garden in the back yard. My challenge for myself was to see how many times I could go from one end of the pool to the other, underwater, holding my breath. For some reason the number ten comes to mind. It wasn’t a big pool, but I remember feeling accomplished at my “feat”.

They say you never forget how to ride a bike once you learn, and I guess it’s the same for swimming. I was never on a team. My high school built one a few years after I graduated. I wish I could have been a “SeaRider”, but maybe I wouldn’t enjoy swimming as much as I do now, had I been coached when  younger. My stroked is laughable by those who “know” swimming and have been coached the proper way to navigate through water from a young age. I don’t care. I have tried to change it, but I am unable to. What I do know is that I am comfortable in water. Any kind of water. Lakes. Oceans. Rivers. Rapids kinda scare me and I don’t like being upside-down in a kayak while moving through cold water with rocks on the bottom. Wasn’t my sport. I respect water. It’s powerful. I love watching proficient swimmers MOVE water. It’s poetry. I don’t call myself a “swimmer”, but I like doing it. I sometimes win medals and trophies in open water swim competitions. It’s a great group of people and it’s fun.

I swam this morning. It woke me up and helped me start my day.  Keep swimming.


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