I love it. I absolutely love to swim. I don’t know why I’ve let it be so many years out of the water.
I swam competitively in junior high, high school & college. (Yes, that’s me in the white cap, foreground, in the picture.) I was never a star, just a good solid second string competitor with an occasional win in my best events. Back in those days I swam 5:30-7am and 3-5pm 6 days a week, with an added hour of weight training 3 days a week. It wouldn’t be unusual to put in 7,500 to 10,000 yards a day.
I remember the first race I ever won. 200 backstroke, Wenatchee swimming pool, I must have been 12 or 13. I had not the faintest idea that winning was possible, but I pulled ahead from the first stroke, and built upon my lead with each lap. When I touched the wall 2 or 3 body lengths ahead of the second place swimmer I was euphoric! And exhausted – the 200 hundred is a middle distance event.
Through the years I’ve started lap swimming a few times, but then my interest has petered out. I push myself too hard, get too competitive and critical, and compare myself unfavorably against my younger, faster, fitter self. I’ve even swam with the Masters’ team a couple of times but I didn’t enjoy it – I had to push too hard, and don’t enjoy swimming in a crowded lane. While I recall the elation of winning, those goals are not for me any more.
If I simply let myself enjoy swimming, without pushing or competitiveness, it’s a wonderful experience. From the moment I walk into the pool and smell the chlorinated air, put on my cap and goggles while looking at my still, glasslike lane, and take that first plunge into cool, embracing water, it’s entirely like coming home. I love the weightlessness, the smoothness, the hypnotic rhythm, and the mindful, meditative state I reach after lap upon lap.
I leave the pool completely centered, energy level turned up to max, with a clear mind and my anxieties drained away.
I don’t know why I ever stopped – and I sure don’t plan to again.