Yesterday, I put on a swimming suit that made me look like a seven year old. I went to the college rec center, tried to find the entrance to the swimming pool, sighed with relief when I found it, and sighed with further relief when I found that there was only one other person in the pool. I awkwardly sat my towel down with my flip-flops and hopped in. I struggled and then gave up on my swimming cap, put on my goggles, looked at the clock, and began to swim.
When I was younger I was a water bug. I have baby pictures of me about to burst with joy being in the pool. Afraid of the water? Not me. I remember taking swimming lessons, but I do not remember not knowing how to swim. I wanted to be at the pool all day every day. I pretended to be mermaids with my sister, constantly trying to touch the bottom of the 12 foot (I was maybe 7 years old at this age), diving off the diving boards, and ate all the glorious Swedish Fish in the world (always associated with summers at the pool for me, 1 penny = 1 Swedish fish, people!). My oldest friend, Paige, and I would hang out at her grandparents fish farm (doing what else?) swimming in a large pond.
I’ve never been afraid of the water. This is probably why I opted to take a ship across to Europe rather than fly for our honeymoon. This lack of fearfulness around water has probably led to some irresponsible decisions. I mean what kind of parents let their elementary school kids swim in the middle of a 20-30 feet deep lake without life jackets? Mine. In their defense, it was the nineties and we were strong swimmers.
By the time I was the age when I could start swim team, I was at the pool all day. I was never very good, never went to regional championships, and was usually in second or third heat, but I have blue ribbons from those heats! I swam back and breast. I remember really enjoying it until I got old enough to be “too cool” for swim team. I did one year of winter high school swim and did not swim again.
I have been playing around with starting to swim again for awhile. After the half-marathon, I kept telling myself. I looked up beginners swim work outs. I bought a suit, some goggles, and a few swim caps. I watched a few youtube videos on form.
And yesterday was the day. The smell of chlorine evoked so many memories. It reminded me of the time I did not use goggles, opening my eyes in the chlorine, and swam so much this way that I could not open my eyes because they were so red and painful from the chemicals. I laid on the couch with a wash cloth over my eyes. It reminded me of the time Paige and I spent all day at the pool swimming and planning on how we would clean the Miami-Erie Canal while making large taffy like creations with fruit flavored tootsie rolls. It reminded me of the weird “beep” the start at the beginning of a race would make. A lot of these memories are from around twenty years ago — that’s how long it has been.
My first swim work out called for only a ten minute swim. Swim one length (25m), wait 30-45 seconds, swim another, repeat. I could only swim five laps…so 250 meters. And I was wiped out exhausted. I know this is not very much at all. I know there are swimmers who do 3000 meter work outs. I’m pretty sure my form was garbage, I kicked my feet too much, and towards the end I was struggling with staying in a straight line (actually, I struggle with this while walking too). But I was satisfied and happy.
I already cannot wait to get back in the water again. My goal for this next twelve-week training period is to try to swim twice a week, Tuesdays and Fridays. The pool is closed due to finals (I think most of the lifeguards are undergrads), so I will not be able to swim again until next week Friday. I’m already excited for it, hoping to get in just one more pool length. I’m looking forward to smelling like chlorine again.
*Just kidding kids. Be safe.