Today it was back to the city pool for the first time since late last August. I paid my money, drank my water, took off my cover-up and glasses, slipped out of my sandals, and went to the water. It was cool but not too cool as I slid down to my shoulders. Then the laps began.
Last year, I fell back in love with swimming after a many-decade hiatus. The rhythm of breast stroke or side stroke, really the only ones I can do (along with a mean doggie paddle) took over, and my body craved full immersion many times a week, sometimes everyday and usually at least four times each week. Once in the water, I would do my 20 laps at a sped-up turtle speed, meaning I was in the water a long time. No matter, the meditative aspects of simply moving back and forth on water caught my cravings, and I found myself structuring my days around when next I could get into a lap lane and swim.
This afternoon, the water welcomed me back with open arms as I stretched open my own arms and laid my face in the cooling water. Water to air, air to water, the clouds building up in the west and the sun occasionally blaring through drew me up to breath and down to take the next stroke.
Of course, I also was quickly reminded of the others around me, the people who don’t do lap lanes according to the rules of Caryn, such as young parents who gingerly step in, holding a baby, and just stand there. Or the little kids who leap frog and walk on their hands underwater, messing around until a life guard edges them out of the lap lanes. There’s the non-swimming movers: the power-walking women, usually my age or so, who pace back and forth, usually in pairs, talking to each other as they exercise, or the singular people just testing their ability to move across water and feel their bodies come to life. There’s the speed-racer swimmers who splash excessively and the fast fish who soar across the pool underwater, popping up half-way across the lap to take a breath. It gets noisy. The hard splashes pummel water across the surface and up my nose when I’m inhaling the serenity of the moment, and sometimes, for no apparent reason, herds of kids (or adults) crossing my lane in front of me. Water gets in my ears and chlorine in my eyes, and my new(again)-to-the-water arms get sore and tired.
But none of this matters because swimming is heavenly. Again.