My parents will tell you that I’ve always been a water baby. I’ve always loved water and my happiest times have been spent near water. Swimming in it, rowing on it, diverting creeks, splashing in puddles – I’m a fan of anything to do with water. As a kid, we spent lots of time camping – usually near (but not too close) water of some sort. A creek, a lake, a river.
As a result of my love of all things water, I’m a pretty decent swimmer – I won’t win any awards but I’m totally comfortable in, under and around water.
After years spent avoiding swimming pools, or more accurately, bathing suits, I returned to the water last year. It was a great way to relax and also get a workout while nursing a foot injury. At this point in my life, I’m not going to let my fears about my body keep me from doing something I adore. I was swimming 2-3 times a week, working up to longer distances with every outing. I was lucky to work with a great coach as part of a drop in swim class and doing so really improved my skills.
After getting whiplash in May, I ended up out of the water. Swimming was not an option for almost 6 months due to the injury and it was awful. I wanted so badly to be back in the water, and while I did do some Aqua Zumba classes (so much fun!) its not the same as swimming and I’ve missed it.
Well last week I went back to the water and it was wonderful. I’ll admit that it was tough after being away for almost 6 months and my neck and shoulders did not feel great. But I slogged though and felt better for having gone to the pool.
Monday was not a fun day at work – too much to do and projects I’m working on just not going as expected. And my neck was stiff and sore from going Cross Country Skiing on Sunday. So I really didn’t want to work out or go for a swim, much less get soggy. I announced that I will go for a swim if my Advil kicks in and my neck feels better but secretly hoping that it doesn’t because I don’t want to go anywhere. Slowly, my neck pain eases, and I dilly dally until about 8:21 until I force myself up off the couch. The comfy womfy couch… Sigh. I dragged myself upstairs, put on my swim suit and cargos and went to the pool.
As much as I love the warm floaty womb of the swimming pool, I’ll admit that I dislike the dirty, hairy soggy change room at the swimming pool. As much as the staff try to keep a change room clean, they are generally gross and I’m not a fan of other peoples hair at the best of times. Thus, flip flops are a must at the local pool.
I arrive at the pool in time for the 9 pm “fitness conditioning” class. Unlike the 8-9 class, this one is almost empty. Maybe 4 people in the whole pool so I get my own lane. Which I love. I can wobble from side to side in the pool and not worry about running into someone else. The water is peaceful and flat and shimmers from the overhead lighting.
I jump in the pool – it’s warm and salty but not so warm that I will overheat. I put my goggles on and start my warm up – 50 metres of front crawl, followed by 50 metres of front drills, and then 50 of kick work (followed by 150 of breast stroke, another 150 of front and then 150 of back stroke).
I can hear the top 40 radio station playing in the background, but as soon as I put my head under the water, all I can hear is the smooth swish of my arms propelling me through the water, the gentle blub of the pool filters and my cares dissolving away with every stroke.
With a few laps, my breath comes more easily, the strokes are smoother and swimming is as easy as breathing. Breathe-strokestroke-breathe, changing to breathe.strokestrokestrokebreathe as I get more comfortable and switch to bilateral breathing. I glide through the water, feeling strong, comfortable and supported. On dry land, I am far from graceful but in the water, its a whole new world. I’m fast, graceful and skilled,
I swam for 900 metres total, not bad for my second time out. Not only was it a great workout but my head feels clear and my soul rested. I’m heading out to the pool again tonight and I’m looking forward to swimming my cares away. Even from the warmth and comfort of my home, I hear the siren song of the pool calling me to its depths. Or maybe that’s the swish of the dishwasher or the dripping of a tap? Either way, its water and I like what it has to say.