I’ve been taking swimming lately. A few months ago, L. talked me into taking a weekly joint swimming class with our younger daughter’s swimming teacher at our community pool. It’s been great fun going to the pool with Laura, although I have recent progressed so much that I am even willing to go alone. One day recently I went alone and the pool was completely empty. I felt that I had to perform some wonderous feat of water-borne altheticism. As this impulse rapidly faded, I wondered where it had come from. I think the only time you ever see someone alone in a pool or gym is in a movie or TV show when they are in training for the big event, and they are showing both intense dedication, and a surprising depth of previously unrevealed talent.
I am happy to report that I completed more than 2 or 3 complete laps all alone in that pool.
I love swimming. I got my red cross swimming card when I was a kid–through the vigorous intervention of my Aunt Edna, herself a famous swimming crusader–but it turns out my technique had gotten worse and worse over years of neglect. Indeed, I thought the embarrassing thing about going to the community pool was going to be changing and showering in public, things I managed to avoid in high school by signing up for gym units like “women’s self-defense” and “modern dance.” Turns out, that doesn’t really bother me anymore (although it took me a while to realize that).
Instead, the most embarrassing things about swimming all have to do with… swimming. Our swimming teacher is great and has completely reconstructed my stroke from the violent flailing I started out with into something workable. Indeed, I can now, as revealed on my date with destiny alone in the pool, actually swim complete laps either with a crawl or a backstroke. And, if I remember to put on my googles, my eyes don’t sting all day. But (embarrassing thing #1) I still have crazy, uncontrollable happy feet in the pool. Try as I will, I cannot stop my feet from kicking wildly in the water. The only cure so far that works is (embarrassing thing #2) swim fins. Swim fins are awesome; they make you cut through the water like you know what you are doing, and I highly recommend them. What’s embarrassing for me is that I feel obliged to take them off and try to actually swim across the pool unassisted now and again… And let’s just say the results ain’t pretty. Which leads to embarrassing thing number 3. I was backstroking along happily, with fins on, cutting through the water while freely breathing as much oxygen as I wanted, contemplating something fascinating, such as why Doc Rivers lets Sam “Alien Baby” Cassel play so much in the playoffs, or what to post on my blog next, when KA-thunk. What’s that? Oh. My skull connecting with the edge of the pool. Ouch. That was too weeks ago, and the old noggin is still quite sensitive. Worst of all, my backstroke has deteriorated, as I now spent the entire lap worrying about hitting my head again.
OK, the really humiliating thing is that I breath with my mouth in the water. Can’t get the nose-breathing working. I guess there’s no reason anyone needed to know that.
An ancillary benefit of swimming is that it has awakened in my for the first time ever an interest in what my friend Patrick refers to as “products.” I’ve been packing little bottles of shampoo and lotion I’ve collected from hotels in my gym/pool bag, and I’ve discovered that a)if I remember to rub lotion on my body after my shower, far from having that horrible chlorine ich all day, I feel all glowy; and b) Aveda Mint-Rosemary shampoo not only doesn’t make my scalp feel like it’s burning, it actually smells good… Not unmanly, but less like a roasted lamb than the name suggests.