The oldest swim memory I have is of hiding in the locker room to avoid getting in the water because it was just so damn cold. That would have been about 1983 in Berlin, Germany and the team was the Berlin Bear-a-Cudas. These weren’t swim lessons, this was the team and we were racing.
The wall was up between East and West. When we traveled to swim meets in Munich or Stuttgart or to SHAPE in Belgium (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe), we passed through the checkpoints at night. I remember being woken up by the train slowing and stopping just after lights out so that our passports could be checked and then drifting off to sleep again when the train started only to be awoken again in the morning by the attendant calling, “coffee, tea, coca-cola!” pushing the cart down the corridor bottles rattling.
I swam continuously until I started college. My talents left me short of Division I scholarships, but within the grasp of Division II. I didn’t see myself swimming at a Division II school somewhere in the Florida swamplands and so I made other plans.
I swam at the pool in Cole Field House at the University of Maryland, joining some of the masters workouts. And then in the newly constructed natatorium while I was matriculating. This was the mid-90’s when triathlon was coming into it’s own as a sport. I was already doing a lot of cycling – both road and mountain, and working at the bike shop (College Park Bikes) and beginning to run a little bit (very little). A few triathlons followed… though no Ironman.
Fast forward to 2007. I trained at the Jewish Community Center in Albuquerque for the Waikiki Roughwater Swim in Hawaii. Imagine an outdoor pool in the desert at 5000 ft. elevation with the 10,6K Sandia Mountains as a backdrop. Decent. My brother and I swam the Roughwater in 2008. I’ve never felt so close to and part of the planet as during that race. When you’re swimming far out in the Pacific, you’re really in it.
There has been a lot of running in the intermediary years but not much swimming. I’ve hopped in the pool maybe once a year, or every other year and done a few laps.
That brings me to today.
The past two weeks while the girls have been in their swim lessons I’ve gotten in the pool. There aren’t any “legal” swim lanes open, so it goes something like this:
I have my suit on under my jeans and sit for a few minutes with the other parents. The lifeguards come over and take a couple of lane lines out, doubling one up for the water aerobics class starting on the south side of the pool. This leaves one open lane. Once all the classes are in progress, I strip down to my suit, grab my water bottle, goggles and cap and walk to the far end of the pool (opposite the lifeguards) like I own the place. Then I hop in and swim continuously until the girls’ lessons are finished. I have about 20 solid minutes and have been getting in a little over a 1,000 yards. At that is why I named the activity “Bandit Laps“.
Feels good to be back in the water.
[Overall it’s been a pretty terrible news (month?). I decided to write a little to take my mind off things. The subtext of all this is that walls are a terrible idea. And Fascists always lose in the end. tl;dr – If you want to read some deep analytical writing on where the world is… this is one I’ve been coming back to.]