Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Reigniting my love for two simple and beautiful things

As an adult I have fallen in love with the sport of swimming. It is so gentle on my old bones, yet it still offers such a physical challenge. Another thing I love about swimming is the other swimmers. Going to the pool to exercise is just so unique. If you work out on a court, you are always aware of the many misses you shoot. And if your workout involves a quick game you immediately feel the competition between opponents and often even teammates. If you work out in the gym, it's hard not to gaze around at all the other bodies, sculpted or obese, and compare yourself to their looks and skills. Also, you usually have to occupy your brain with mindless TV or other media outlets. The pool lacks that competitive nature but still provides a comradery. Plus, swimming is a joy! Sure I find bike riding, basketball, and many other sports offer the same joy, but no matter how much I run I will never run for pleasure. Ugh, some work outs just aren't for me. I love the challenge, comradery, and excitement swimming provides.

Today I shared a lane with two other dudes. One lapped me about three times and I think the other intentionally swam slowly not to stress me out. But together they really pushed me to keep up a pace. I didn't focus on my form as much as I usually do, but I did focus on the breaks I take at the end of each lap. And those breaks were cut significantly as I felt the chase of two more competitive swimmers. This was a good change for me. I can't believe how much my heart races when I swim for only a short 20 minute workout. I could feel my face heating up even though the water splashing on it was cool. Swimming is such an exciting cardio challenge.

Though sharing lanes wasn't ideal, all three of us were eager to help a swimmer out. The other three lanes were occupied by grade school aged students and their instructors. At first just myself and the fast dude were sharing a lane, so we each swam on a side. When another swimmer came along we formed an oval of sorts. Down the right, up the left. The formation was smooth enough to both avoid collision and provide opportunities to pass one another. I was impressed! It was such a great example of athletes (even old chubby ones) supporting one another.

One thing I really enjoyed about sharing lanes was the feeling that I was in a triathlon all over again. It is impossible to prepare yourself for that open water swim, but splitting a lane between three people felt like the best preparation one could have. Of course, the most exciting part of my time in the pool wasn't sharing a lane with two grown men, but rather it was time spent splashing around with my kids. I played with them in the shallow pool while Ben worked out, then he played while I worked out. Both kids were so excited to splash in the water; we could not keep Nell on the raft we hoped to have her float on. Which was okay, because Reid required very little supervision thanks to the lessons he took this winter. Whether I'm racing down the lane or fidgeting with my kids, I always enjoy my time in the pool.

The only downside to swimming, of course, is all the locker room effort it takes to get in and out of the pool. I guess I am just spoiled from having a pool (and a gym) at our apartment in Arlington, VA. For religious reasons I don't love getting myself ready in the women's locker room. And for obvious reasons I don't love getting myself and two little kids ready in the women's locker room. Oh the beauty of the family room, which does not exist at the YMCA where we swam today. But I digress. The thesis of this post is that I love swimming! It's a workout; other swimmers are kind and accommodating, and I always have fun in the water. Go swim, go!

PS Can you figure out what my two simple and beautiful things are? If so, you know I'm a nerd!

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