Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Life Told in Swims

Today I went swimming for the first time in about a year. By myself. I swam 3/4 lengths at my leisure, avoiding dive bombing kids and adults swimming with floats. I swam for 25 minutes but rested for a moment between lengths. This was followed by a relaxing hot shower, a few minutes in the sauna and taking my time getting dressed and combing conditioner through my hair. Contrast this to my 9 year old self: Racing to get to the pool early (having put on my togs beneath my clothes to save time), waiting at the poolside to be the first in, darting here and there over, in and under the water, getting the most out of every minute. I would wait until the lifeguard shouted, "time's up" before clambering out for a quick shower and change.

I enjoyed today as much as I enjoyed swimming when I was 9. Today was one of the infrequent times in the past few years that I have enjoyed swimming. I enjoyed not having to think, just doing the equivalent of a stroll in the pool with nothing/no one to worry about.

I can mark a lot of developments in my life in the swimming pool.
At 4 years old I clung to the bar afraid to let go. At 5 I jumped straight into the deep end, unafraid in my bright orange armbands. Through primary school I gained confidence, earning certificates and medals for my achievements. My Dad, brothers and I had season tickets at the local pool which we used often. By the age of 9 I had started lifesaving lessons, dividing time between learning in the water and shivering as I practiced CPR and the recovery position on the cold, wet poolside tiles. During one trip to the local pool the lifeguard told me to get out of the deep end. After towing my Dad around the shallow end I was never told to get out again!

At 13 however I was training for a particular lifesaving medal. There was one section (a timed swim carrying a person in a tow using a shirt) that I just couldn't do. No matter how hard I tried I just did not have the stamina to make the time. Discouraged I left and didn't return. Swimming lost its joy for me. In my teens and 20s my most enjoyable swims were with friends in the sea (I no longer feel so cold in the open water). But, for me, today was the first time I went swimming alone and didn't feel bored with nobody to talk to/chase around the pool. I enjoyed the time to myself without anybody needing my attention or being responsible for anybody. Thanks for the blessing today, Lord!

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