Summer days

I was just invited to a swimming party.

I realized that I was feeling a sense of anxiety, and I asked myself its source.

I discovered it was about being seen in a swimsuit (of any kind, really), which has been frustrating for me in recent recent years, due to my poor physical fitness level.

I quickly evaluated my body, to verify the reason for the concern.

I then chuckled silently, as I recalled that I clearly don’t have that same problem anymore, especially considering the fact that I almost ditched my shirt during our workout today (It was just so hot and humid today, and the tank top felt like it was holding warmth in!).

It’s a new feeling for me to be back to swimsuit ready at the drop of a hat, and to be fully comfortable with the thought of swimsuits and whoever might be around while I’m in one.

And it is a very good feeling. 🙂

Thank you, gym, and thank you, God, for getting me to this gym where beautiful magic is happening, at long last.

Post-a-day 2019

Advertisements

Swimstress

(Pronounced much like seamstress, but just a different first set of letters.)

I attended a swim meet today for little kids.

On the way over, I was discussing on the phone with my aunt my own swim team days, and how stressful they always were for me – a fact which I had rather forgotten entirely until the discussion today.

I wasn’t concerned in any way, of course, but instead excited to be attending the meet and finally not being one swimming in it.

While watching the little kids swim, however, I found myself rubbing genuine tears from the sides of my eyes (at first, I’d thought it was just sweat, or something in my eye, but quickly discovered that they were actual tears), and not from joy or excitement.

I wished my little family members fun and luck – I hoped their swim each time went well and that they enjoyed doing it.

The parents all around me had other thoughts and ideas for their children… speed, winning, beating the other kids, going as hard and fast as they could… this is what they told the kids constantly before each heat began…

‘Go as fast as you can, okay?…, as fast as you can!’

One parent, upon hearing a coach say to a child to make sure she has fun, casually added to her just-completed long declarations of necessary speed, with a pathetic fervor, ‘Disfruta.’ (Spanish for ‘Have fun,’ or ‘Enjoy.’)

She didn’t seem too convinced that having fun was a priority, though. :/

The whole thing ended up carrying a whole sense of stress for me, and had me wondering how many children were going to struggle because of this pressure from these parents…. they aren’t even over six years old yet, and they are crying their eyes out after swimming a fabulous 25 metres, just because they didn’t win…

Now, not all the kids were like this, of course…, but there were enough to make me rather uneasy.

If it had just been the parents cheering on the kids to do their best, that would have been fabulous.

But it wasn’t that, was it?

Very few adults seemed to be cheering that way at all…., and it made me want to ask them to consider what their priorities are regarding their children and the happiness of their children.

Perhaps I’m not doing a very good job at portraying the parental cheering and commentary… it just seemed like no one encouraged the kids to do their best, even – all that mattered was going fast, according to all the parents were saying.

And odd topic for a regular Monday night swim meet, I dare say(!).

Anyway, I was able to see why on Earth I was so stressed out at swim meets as a child – there is an immense amount of rather intense pressure, most of which is literally being screamed at you as a swimmer… no wonder I totally disliked it and always felt like I was letting everyone down and failing.

Plus, compared to my older brothers, who swam first heat in their ages groups, and who often got top places in their heats, I really sucked, being in second or third (or even last heat, sometimes), and not even getting a top placement there… I had a real ball-fest whenever I received that all-too-common purple ribbon after my swim: DQ (disqualification)…

So, yeah… that was an interesting experience this evening…

Surprisingly enough, it caused a resurgence, even stronger this time, of my wanting to be a swim team coach… I don’t know why specifically, but I really want to do that somehow.

Also, if I’m ever looking to hire young people, I am so looking for kids who have been swim team coaches – boy do they handle a lot, and effectively, too… totally reliable as good hires, I say.

Anyway, I’m glad I got into swimming in college… I learned that I really love swimming laps – I can literally do it for hours and still enjoy it… I think it was just all the pressure I felt at swim meets that had me practically hate them and, by association, swimming laps itself… even though I totally admired the people who could swim lots and well.

I want to get back into that, actually… hmm…

Post-a-day 2019

Crazy and some more crazy

Sometimes, I wish that the thoughts that eat away at me could do that more literally, and specifically in the areas of my body that have more fat tissue than I’d like to have there.  That would be awesome, now, wouldn’t it?

Yes, I know that I might sound a bit crazy.  I certainly feel that way.  I’ve felt a bit crazy for a lot of today, I suppose, but in different ways.

I’m somehow still awake after ten pm, even though I was ready to go to sleep early this afternoon.  I guess it’s exhausting being so crazy.  😛   But actually, talk about an exhausting workout… try swimming again after not doing it regularly for years (except for a handful of times I did it in the fall).  I swam just over half a mile in about 45 minutes.  Not much for what I used to do, but huge for my recent list of aerobic activities (i.e. the occasional casual bicycle rides around the neighborhood).

**(Be prepared for some bathroom talk now, and do not read on if you don’t do well with that kind of thing.)**

After swimming, I got a smoothie with my dad (the kind with fruit and veggies, of course).  It was huge.  I drank the whole thing, and then realized, only as I began my half-hour drive home, that I needed to use the bathroom.  I considered whether it wouldn’t be best to turn back and go ask my dad to use the bathroom there, but figured I’d be fine.  When traffic hit, extending the length of the drive, I worried momentarily about whether I would have to urinate on the highway next to my car, the way my brother’s old girlfriend had once had to do.  Fortunately for everyone, the traffic was a minor holdup that ended very quickly.

Now, I once was in the bathroom stall at the movie theatre, when I noticed that the lady in the stall next to mine was urinating for a very long time.  I had happened to glance at my watch right as she’d begun, and so looked at it again, when I realized that she had not yet finished.  I was amazed when she finally ended, well over a minute after she had begun.  Talk about a lot of water.  That being said, I have, ever since then, had a certain awareness of my own capacity and how it goes about being released, so to speak.  The result of that smoothie today was definitely one of the greatest quantities I’ve ever managed.  Not only was the pressure ridiculously high, but it lasted over half a minute!

And, as entertaining as I am certain that that all is, I do not recommend it to anyone.  Having that much in the bladder at once is really quite miserable, and I hope this was the only time I must experience it.

Fun stuff, huh?  😛

Post-a-day 2018

Just keep swimming…

I swam today!  And I don’t mean just playing around in a pool.  I swam laps.  Half a mile did I swim, and, though this is nothing to what I once could accomplish in the same amount of time (a mile or more), I am incredibly proud of this half mile, because I have not swum a lap in at least four years.  Not bad for starting out, I say!

In college, I discovered a love for swimming.  Laps, that is.  I spent about ten years on swim team as a kid, and I kind of hated most of it.  I absolutely loved the social aspect and the fun of the meets on Monday nights, and even getting ribbons for my race efforts.  But practice was something else entirely.  

You see, I was never very good at swimming.  I certainly was not bad by any means.  However, put me against the kids on the team who were considered “good”, and I paled in comparison.  I was better than the couple tubby kids, and I had decent speed, but my endurance just wasn’t there.  Because of that, I was never at the front of the line in practice, and near the back was not where I wanted to be.  I was also utterly exhausted before practice was ever even over.  So, I didn’t much like swim practice, and even disliked it a bit…, which meant that I went less and less often as Ingrew older.  This also meant that I get worse and worse, when compared to all the kids who actually attended every practice (and most kids had been on the team as long as I had).

All of that being said, I was truly surprised when I fell in love with swimming in college.  I always respected and almost revered swimmers as glorious doers of beautiful sport.  I always rather envied them (minus the really broad shoulders).  But I also always disliked practice.  It’s almost surprising that I did swim team longer than any other sport, but for the fact that my mom required us to do swim team.  To this day, I do not know how I got out of swimming in Open (ages 15-18), but I was beyond delighted that my swim team days were finished before I had to be slower than everyone in my age group.  13/14’s were tough enough for my morale.

I wasn’t on the team in college or anything, but I did attend the meets that happened on campus, and I loved them.  It wasn’t until my third (and final) year that I started swimming myself, though.  I joined a water sports class and tennis class in order to fulfill my sport credits for school, and somehow also ended up going swimming in the pool during the nighttime opening hours.  Perhaps my inspiring friend Genevieve got me to go with her one night to start, and then I kept going on my own after that.

In the water sports class, there were mostly non-athletic people in it, and so we often just had inner tube water polo on the schedule.  I disagreed with the inner tubes on principal for the game, but the level of competitiveness actually got me quite irritated in class.  This is not mean to be harsh, merely matter-of-fact: If you aren’t good at something, you aren’t allowed to be fiercely competitive in it.  Some of these people were yelling and going crazy over this game that Inhad already passed as casual and fun, since almost no one was any good at it.  

So, I eventually asked the coach if I could swim laps instead for class.  He might have denied me at first, but then realized how desperately I wanted to do it instead of water polo, and so allowed me for any time we played that particular game (which was often).  The first time he agreed to it, he told me that it was ‘okay, but only if you swim a mile.’  I honestly told him that I likely was incapable, but he chuckled and I realized that he was joking.

I trained at nights on the days we didn’t have class, and worked hard in my swimming.  I still remember the excitement I had on the day I climbed out of the water near the end of class and told him, “Okay, done.”  I had swum a mile during class, which was only a 45-minute class.  I had barely done it in time, but I had done it.  The coach was nearly baffled.  He expressed that he had been merely joking about the mile.  I told him how I knew that, but figured I’d go for it, anyway.  He was impressed.  He didn’t think he was capable of swimming a mile in any length of time.  I had earned the recognition I had hoped in my silly endeavor, which only added to my joy of accomplishing the task itself.  I was not a swimmer, but here I was, quickly swimming a mile, and able to rush off to tennis class immediately afterward.

One thing to add about that time swimming: My body was incredibly happy, and it looked great, too.  Ever since then, I have been convinced that swimming is one of (if not the) the best full-body workouts around, with amazing results.

Here I am, years later, finally in a pool again.  I have more to my body than I would like for there to be in certain areas, and not enough to satisfy my muscle goals for my body, so I truly hope I find a way to get this swimming to be a regular and often thing again, and that I do it.  Because I really do love swimming.

Post-a-day 2017
P.S. A fellow ALT (assistant language teacher) recently mentioned how she had a student who was attempting to express that he was a swimmer, and so he wrote, “I am a breast stroker.”  Gotta love things getting lost in translation.  😛

Diving boards and rains

I never appreciated rain so much as when I was a lifeguard.  I enjoyed that I was wonderfully trained and fit, both mentally and physically, and I liked the honor of the job, as well as the decent pay and good tan. However, I felt like a bit of a nervous wreck when it came down to it.  If there were only a handful of people at a pool, it was all right – it felt like just a normal day at a pool.  When there were several people, a party, even, I was okay, actually.  The only time I was actually a nervous wreck, now that I really think about it, was when we were waiting for people to show up.  When the pool was empty, my imagination worked my anxiety to the roof and beyond.  Even before I arrived for a shift, I would be a mess inside, somewhat terrified of what might come at my next shift.  I knew I didn’t have near the likelihood of beach lifeguards of having to save someone or having to treat a swimmer with any First Aid skills (or dealing with a shark), but it only comforted so much to know that the chances were merely lower than likely, as opposed to being near zero.

Somehow, I made it through that summer, though.  I never did go back to lifeguarding, riding on the excuse that the company for which I had worked had closed, and so all of my credentials and paperwork disappeared with their closing (ignoring the fact that the owners of the company were parents of a friend and schoolmate).

Speaking of that friend and schoolmate, we only really became friends after that summer, but we were in band together before then, and so were loose acquaintances.  We had our first one-on-one that summer, lifeguarding.  He was all about making money, and so he showed up to lifeguard what seemed like every time somebody had to cancel on a shift.  We only worked together once, but I remember it clearly still. Well, I remember most of it clearly, anyway.

No one showed up to swim that day. (This is the part where I’m unclear.  There might have been one or two  small groups who did show up eventually, but it was only a short while, and somewhere near the middle or end of the day.).  It sprinkled some during the day, warding off swimmers.  We, however, did do some swimming of our own.
It was during this swimming that Inwas confronted with a fear of mine: diving boards.  I really am uncertain as to how the fear developed, but it did somehow.  When I was little, I would run and/or jump off of any diving board around, even the long, tall ones at public pools.  But by this time, high school, I was terrified of a board that had too much spring.  Most public pool diving boards would go down a good couple or even few feet when an adult sprang from them.  And my faith in the boards not breaking, as well as the jumpers not slipping, was low.  This applied to anyone as the jumper, even myself, and even the most advanced diver.  I think I was just panicked that the board would break off, and smack the jumper in the head, knocking out him/her, and resulting in serious injury.  I once attempted a cartwheel off a home diving board at the neighbors’ house, and I ended up grabbing on to the end of the board, and falling legs first into the water, scratching my stomach on the board as I held tight to it with my hands (think of jumping out of a pool in reverse, and scratching your stomach on the side as you do it).  But that never had anything to do with the spring of the board; that one was rather solid and non-springy.  Plus, I kept using boards for years after that specific incident, though I was aware of potential danger from there on out.

Anyway, on that particular day, working together, this fellow lifeguard and school mate convinced me to jump off the diving board.  It took me a while, and I was really reasoning with him against doing it, even as I stood atop it, but I eventually did it.  I might even have done it multiple times, actually.  All I remember about that part was that I finally did jump off, and I was okay about it.  

And, I believe, I have been ever since.  I still have to go check how much bounce awaits me before I actually do whatever jump I do, but I can do it, and I don’t feel like I am going insane each time.

Post-a-day 2017