The deep end. We treaded water in the deep end, jumped into the deep end, floated on our backs in the deep end, and we swam in the deep end. Fourteen feet. What?? What?!?!?! That’s what I’ve been waiting for.
I like my pools like I like my women. With a deep end, a beach area, above room temperature, very few kids, proper pH levels, unsegregated, open year round, and not overly chlorinated, if you catch my drift. And the very real possibility of drowning in it.
There’s one more class to go. Backstroke is a train wreck and not even the kind of train wreck that’s thrilling enough to watch. More like one of those easily avoided, anti-climactic, slowly derailing, awkwardly listing, passenger cabin filling with acrid plastic-petroleum-byproduct smoke, with a pathetic metallic squeal kind of train wrecks.
Elementary backstroke may have been better if I hadn’t done chin ups for the first time in a very long time in the gym this week. Too legitimus for the latissimus. Freestyle, though. Much better. I made it across the pool a few times during the various drills. It’s just that when I get tired I have to breathe very frequently. If I miss once and inhale water instead of air — that complicates things. The instructor told me to exhale with intent right before I take a breath. That helped. Shoot. I need to practice.
Good news! Most pools don’t have Olympic or rec center dimensions. Most recreational pools, I could hold my breath and kick from one end to the other through the warm, relatively viscous clouds of child urine, hair product residue, and sunscreen. Now I can dreamily float on my back as I look up at the sky and regret all of the water and pool times I’ve missed out on. And the future potential, of course, but hey — human nature.
Pro tip: beans and swimming don’t mix. Not in a group setting, anyway. And, um…
That’s all I have to say about that.
Let’s talk about goals for a minute. Certain people who’ll remain nameless — let’s call him or her Custin Jase (What is that? Irish?) — suggest and encourage me to set goals. Find something I like to do and kick it up a notch. You like to mountain bike so why not do a mountain bike race. You enjoy kayaking so why not one of those bike/run/paddle triathlons.
It’s a good suggestion. I really don’t like those things, though. It’s like — everyone’s in such a hurry at races. People are intensely focused on aggressively trying to ride around a big circle as fast as they can and I’m all, “Look how blue the sky is today. Hm. I want a Starbucks latte — go around me!”
The point stands, though. Goals are important (and there are a lot of events that are more about camaraderie than outright competition and I’m definitely inwardly competitive). For the last swimming class, my goal was to consistently swim the full length non-stop. In order to tackle that goal seriously I had to make sure I didn’t eat anything heavy that day or have too much caffeine before class. I drank more water so I wouldn’t be dehydrated. I took Advil because I was sore from the previous day’s workout. I wore the tightest swimming shirt and the least baggy swimming shorts that I own to cut down on drag. I had to roll out and stretch and made sure to warm up in the fitness room at the rec center for a few minutes to get my heart rate up and get the blood flowing before getting in the pool. (Have you seen those lateral motion elliptical machines? Strange.)
That one mini-goal required me to restructure my entire day. That’s powerful.
Goals = action. Goals, big or small, require strategy and, by necessity, a change of habits: start doing this, stop doing that, go to this new place, talk to this person, research that, try to find a community of people with similar goals, commit, practice, train, recover, practice, train recover, etc. All because you want to go from here to there in a way that you usually don’t. Or all because you want to pick something up and put it down again that’s heavier than the last thing you picked up and put down again. Or because you want to maximize your lifespan and the quality of that lifespan.
All the swimming classes are full until about a month from now so I’m not sure what to do. I guess there’s nothing stopping me from going in to practice while I’m waitlisting. I want to be able to swim laps without stopping. Let’s start with one lap. One solid lap. One solid lap and feeling good at the end of it. And I want to float and swim/snorkel/dive in the Caribbean, ideally within the next year. Florida in a pinch. Maybe with some sea life: dolphins, seals, sea turtles, Nemo, Sebastian, babes in bikinis, all those posh ghosts from the Titanic.
Instructor: “I got your heart rate up today, didn’t I?”
Me: [breathing heavily] “Yes you did. I even went to the fitness room to warm up before class. For all the good that did.”
Instructor: [Laughs] “Alright, jump in and swim to the stairs.”
Me: [sploosh] “Under the seeeaaaaa!’