Lessons from the Lanes

SwimindexI am a swimmer, and many life lessons have come via the pool. Like: fat and water don’t mix … fat floats … therefore, all sizes can enjoy the water.

If you want to feed your insecurities, stand naked in the pool shower. But if you want to feel okay about yourself, also stand naked in the pool shower. There are many body shapes and sizes … get over yourself. You can also shower with your bathing suit on.

One morning a group of grade one students arrived after my aqua-size class was done. Most of the ladies in the class are in their sixties with real grandma bodies, soft and comfortable for hugs, with a little extra pudding. It is freeing to be among these women who are comfortable with their bodies, and peculiar vein-marked appendages. The six year old girls chattered non-stop while they got their swim suits on … the chatter continued as they marched towards the pool, you have to walk past the showers to get to the pool … as they rounded the corner they went dead silent, their mouths stopped mid-word, they could not take their eyes off the nakeds in the showers. Somehow I think this was not the picture of grandma they envisioned. Each wave of girls repeated the sequence of chatter, silence, eyes wide-open fixated on the marshmallow ladies. The grannies had their own chuckles after the education session.

Some mornings the lanes are labelled … Slow, Medium, FAST.         critical-images                                   With only four lanes, I tend to choose medium or slow. But, after the triathletes have vacated their fast lane, I choose it, and discreetly nudge the fast sign to the edge of adjoining lane. This morning as I joined in, my lane partner said “I’m not that strong a swimmer, I do some swimming and some jogging back and forth.”

“Whatever works,” I said. She jogged on and I front crawled past her.  I wondered why she told me that. After half a lane, I realized, she was apologizing for herself. She was in the lane swim, but not doing the standard strokes.

How many times hadn’t I felt out of place when I started at the pool? People would lap me again and again. When I swam alone, I didn’t care, but when there were two or three other swimmers in the lane, I felt the need to apologize each time my arm or leg bumped into another swimmer. So sorry to have been in your space. I stopped at the end of the lane, lifted my goggles from my eyes. I was not in this for their sakes, I was here for myself. We all had a right to be there, and as I stopped comparing myself to others the more buoyant I became.old ladyimages

One stroke of pool luck … I have found a solution for my increasing facial wrinkle count. This morning as I struggled to get a swim cap on – yes, I wear a swim cap to keep my ear plugs in, and the water out of my ears, as I pulled this girdle like cap on my head, I could feel my scalp sucking upwards … then I smiled as I noticed my skin pulled tight, a face lift without surgery.  Hmmm, I wonder if my navy swim cap goes with my little black dress? 

One thought on “Lessons from the Lanes

  1. I think I’d like extra pudding! Perhaps, what was meant was padding, now that I think about it. 🙂 Self acceptance can be hard and, well, sometimes what happens as we age is unacceptable. We are always a work in progress. Always thankful for your perspective and how it makes me think.

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