I’m addicted to swimming.
No, I didn’t mean to type “nutella” or “TV show” or even “a new boy.” I’m not saying I’m going to train for the Olympics any time soon – I mean, have you met me? – but I’m not going to stop, either.
When I showed up at my local pool last September, I was armed with a bright pink swimming suit and a whole lot of good intentions. They didn’t exactly pan out. It took me 45 minutes to swim 320 meters. I coughed up my lungs repeatedly and almost drowned a few times, and I positively did not feel like the mermaid I’d hoped to become.
And then something amazing happened. I dived in the water to swim one last length… and my mind cleared. I was so busy swimming that I forgot about the rest. Everything fell away until it was just me and the water and the distance in between.
In the water, I stop thinking. I breathe and keep moving until I find my balance – inner and outer.
I’ll spare you the details of my Terribly Awkward Date with the Pool Manager Where I Forgot My Wallet and our subsequent Awkward Encounters During Which I Wore a Swimming Suit and He Looked On — that’s just a blimp on my radar now.
Do you want to know what really matters? I don’t swim because I want to lose weight or tone my body or prove something to myself. I swim because it makes me feel good. I walk in stressed, tired, worried, upset, and walk out calm, composed and refreshed.
I swam in a private club when I was a kid and hated every single minute of it. But I did it because my parents signed me up. I didn’t really have a choice. My coaches would yell at me to just swim faster and breathe better and move my arms like this and my body didn’t feel mine.
This? This is all mine.
Swimming has taught me a lot of about perseverance. I’ve always hated sports and I didn’t think I would ever grow to like one (except for marathoning TV shows. But that doesn’t count, does it?). I proved myself wrong. It turns out being wrong can be nice sometimes.
I love swimming so much I even wrote a poem about it. Just like my swimming, it probably needs a lot of work. But I’m not afraid to try anymore. That feels good, too.
I used to be afraid of water
Like I could never float long enough to make it to shore
But the water and I have become fast friends.
It’s taught me how to breathe
And how to slow my thoughts
Until I reach a place where there is only
My body fighting gravity
And my heart racing in my chest
And all my worries disappear like the high tide
When the moon fades in the morning sky.
Breathe in, breathe out
Dive in, swim out
The water wraps me in its cool embrace
I welcome it with open warms
The vastness isn’t so scary anymore.