I regularly run on an elliptical at my gym and supplement that workout with some modest weight-lifting but for years I’ve longed for a gym with a pool where I could swim laps. This year, I found a pool and lately I’ve been grabbing my swimsuit to swim laps. It’s a glorious thing and as I add up the laps, I’ve plenty of time to think.
For most of my childhood, swimming meant a pool in the backyard. I didn’t swim laps there, but I did play endless games of Marco Polo. When I get in any pool, I always think of the pools of my youth. My parents first put a pool in our backyard when I was in the 4th grade. As a child, my father had not learned to swim because swimming lessons always required him to remove his very thick glasses. Not enjoying the combination of near blindness and fear of drowning, my dad took a pass on swimming lessons. When we got a pool, he learned to swim but always swam with his glasses on. More than once, my sister and I swam to the bottom of the pool to fetch those glasses.
I’ve worn contact lenses since I was in my early 20s and I regularly swam wearing them. Last year, I finally exchanged my contact lenses for glasses full time. When I get in the pool, I leave my glasses on a bench with my towel. I can see without my glasses, but it’s definitely a very fuzzy world view. I can’t read the (giant) clock on the wall, nor can I trace my laps by the timer on the other side of the natatorium. I can tell when someone else is in my lane, but if they aren’t close by, I can’t see them. I am a confident swimmer, so this doesn’t phase me.
But as I swim back and forth, I think of my dad, whose vision is far worse. Now I really understand his reluctance to get in a swimming pool all those years ago. I appreciate how difficult it must have been to take on swimming as an adult. And I swim another lap or two, grateful for the blessing of time to swim and think.