Last night, I tried my body at lap swimming. Naturally, I was inspired by the Olympians in Rio. What could be more motivating than watching the super-fit athletes in their slick suits glide through the water like a pod of porpoises? They made swimming look so effortless. There was no spluttering or messy kicking. Not a single swimmer rolled over onto his or her back to catch their breath while floating and panting.
Obviously, they had gills and webbed fingers. Instead of ostracizing these fish people for their differences, we regale them as the heroes and champions of our country because they are winners. Would we be so open to these genetic mutations otherwise? Personally, I am quite jealous of the fish people. I envy their extra big lungs and controlled breathing, their webbed toes and gills turn me green. Some (fish) people have all the luck.
Before I could start on my own Olympic training, I had to track down my swimsuit from when I was 12 or 15 or 29. The suit was an old purple Speedo, not the best looking suit, but it still served its porpoise. I knew it was somewhere around our house, stuffed into a cranny or nook in a closet.
Sure enough, I found it at the bottom of a box tucked into the closet, under 357 unmatched socks, just waiting for Match Day. Squeezing into it was the next challenge but once I was in, it was for good. There was no risk of this suit slipping as there was barely the possibility of breathing and regular blood circulation, let alone a wardrobe malfunction.
So, I had the suit and the desire, I just needed the big body of water with lines and as few other people as possible. I headed to the gym, weaved my way through the meatheads and the sweaty sweaters to the locker room and into the pool.
Thankfully, I was the only one there for the first few laps. I stopped after each length of free-styling to pant and rest on the wall before trying it again. At one point, I floated on my back down the lane and imagined myself to be an ameba on a Petri dish, running into the wall and the separating buoy line. I choked on water, spluttered and gasped while kicking and splashing in what might be called swimming by someone watching from far away without binoculars.
Then a very serious-about-swimming woman appeared with a swimming cap and goggles, water shoes and a nose clip. Drats! My secret was about to get out that I was the worst swimmer in the pool. She then proceeded to lower herself into the pool to walk, slowly, from one end to the other waving her arms in a crazy water aerobics class type of way.
I stopped worrying about what she thought or any other person who slid into the water. It’s not a competition, unless you really are in the Olympics and then good for you. For the rest of us, it is about letting go of being self- conscious and doing what feels good and what is good for us. Regardless of how messy or terrible it looks, who cares?
It is another one of those things that is about function not fashion, right Dad?