It’s been around since forever; retro, cheap and clean. Three mornings a week, May through October, I throw on my swimsuit and head out to our little municipal pool for a swim.
When I first hit the water I feel like a kid. I love the buoyancy, the sparkling aquamarine with sunlight bouncing off it. I love pushing off from the side of the pool with my feet, the feeling of strength as I propel through the water, love looking up at the sky as I do my backstroke, seeing the clouds. A speck of a bird way up high.
There’s a group of regulars there that I’ve come to know. Lots of them retirees like me but plenty of supple young athletes too–practicing their strokes, staying in shape. Black, White, Latino, young, old. It’s a mixed bag but this place makes us water buddies.
Today 92-year old Fred was doing his thing in the next lane, slow but steady. When he walks down the steps into the water he’s all stooped over, looking ancient, but he says his hurts disappear as soon as he’s in.
Then there’s Shirley and Mike, the couple from South Africa. They razz each other. She’s a better swimmer than him. “Yay! He left the side of the pool!” she teased when he finally got going.
And Alfredo, the 300+ lb Spanish guy who’s there every day doing his slow backstroke wearing the same floppy hat. He doesn’t say much but he’s sweet; a gentle giant going back and forth.
Then there’s the music– happy songs from the boom box. Music that makes you want to kick those feet, move those arms, pick up the pace.
Towards the end of my swim, the little kids line up for lessons. Some timid, some full of beans. I love hearing the instructor call out their names. Lilly, Kyla, Nicolette, Ernesto. Every glistening little body a future in the making.
After an hour of cool, blue water I pull myself out, lay in the sun a few minutes to dry off, wave good-bye and head home, ready to tackle the day.