Thursday, March 15, 2007


In a few hours I'll be at the gym, working out. Thursdays are tough days at the pool, classes take place around 5 until 7pm, so they closed the lap swim.

The ladies locker room is usually cold and crowded. There are a few women I know there and we might chat, but mostly I find no reason to talk as I get ready. I organize my stuff, take a brief shower and head out to the pool. I greet the lifeguard and ask her how she's doing as I get a kickboard from the shelf next to her chair. Most of the time, the lanes are empty and I can take my pick of whichever one I prefer and have it to myself. I toss my kick board into the pool and I don't pay any attention to the coldness of the water as I enter in. I put my goggles on and swim underwater to my lane.

I usually start out with a few slow laps. My timing on the first lap is usually off- it takes awhile to get my breathing rhythm right. During the first lap I also feel like I hate swimming, why am I swimming. My arms' muscles usually complain to me how mean I am to them. Sometimes, there is water in my goggles, so I have to stop to adjust them or else I'll lose my contact lenses.

The second lap, I get the kickboard and kick my lap through. It is incredibly slow but every time I do it I get better. The kicking technique is something new that I've learned to pay attention to. The position of the feet is pretty important, a lot of it depends on the flexibility of the ankles. So I concentrate on that, going slow but making sure that I'm kicking correctly. On the return, I go faster and get my heart rate up.

I pause and rest until my heart rate drops, just a minute.

The third lap, I do the breaststroke and find that my body has finally accepted that I will carry out my intention to swim purposefully for an hour. The pacing is still rough and still seems to take forever to finish the lap, my mind is not one with my body yet.

I rest, not because of my body needing to, but because I need to stop thinking and just focus on swimming. I think about my intentions and what I plan to do.

The fourth lap is much easier and faster. I finish, but this time I don't stop and just flip and begin swimming the next lap. At this point, I lose myself in swimming, and I don't know when my head is above the water taking a breath or below the water exhaling. The next 8 laps fly by and I hardly feel like I'm swimming. I've entered a state of mind that is meditative and restful. I only get there by continuously swimming and it is the reason why I swim.

When I stop, I really don't feel like stopping. I feel like I could go forever. My heart rate is up but steady. But I stop to think about my last two or three laps. I've added freestyle to my routine, but I have a problem with keeping a steady rhythm. By the time I reach the other side, I have to stop and rest before I return to finish the lap. But with every attempt, it gets better.

I get out, return the kickboard to the lifeguard, chat a little with her, hit the showers, and get ready to go home. I feel refreshed and as though I'm floating through the air. I have to remind myself how much I hate to work out. My favorite animal is the Honu, which is Hawaiian for "Sea Turtle". Like them, I am clumsy while on land, but I feel graceful and swift in the water.

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