Swimmingly Well

Yesterday I swam for the first time in almost an eternity. My last swim was in 1B.C. (before covid 😭!) my brain no longer tracks dates with much ease having been blessed with living in Leicester (aka Plague Central) and locked down for 16ish months… People talk about the New Normal… I can barely remember the old normal… The old life feels as real as any other half remembered dream. Occasionally I wonder when/if we’ll shift into an A. C. calendar.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bemoaning things, in fact lockdown has been probably one of the best times of my life to date. The only thing I’ve really missed with any great passion is swimming… Other things have gone from my life and no great loss nor grief has been felt…

But swimming… My relationship with water is an unlikely love affair! I’m just not built to gracefully glide… In my imagination, I fool myself that I’m a mermaid. My daydreams are often interrupted when I choke and reality bites, reminding that no matter how vivid I pretend, I still can’t breathe underwater. I cough up water trying to keep the noise down incase I attract the attention of the lifeguard and have to confess that no I’m not drowning, please don’t try and save me, you can’t rescue me from madness… I’m a terrible swimmer… And I’m OK with that.

I often laugh to myself when I think about positivity and mantras and hang in there don’t give up type things… My visualisation skills are next level brilliant! Fuck me! I should have manifested scales and a tail by now… My ability to turn up and keep trying is excellent, so why am I no closer to an Olympic Gold? 🤣 Shhh… Don’t answer that! I’m fully aware of 50+ reasons why that’s never going to happen…

I don’t swim to win in other people’s eyes or by other people’s standards. Initially I took up swimming in desperation, trying to heal from a back problem. I kind of loathe getting wet in a pool… It takes a lot of effort for me to zone out the thoughts about what kind of germs and nasties are in the big bath of water and human shed snot and pee and cells… I’ve cohabited with Mr S for over 30 years and I will wretch myself to near death if I inadvertently pick up and use his toothbrush by mistake… So being fully immersed in a microbial soup of bits of strangers is about as full on Virgo Hell as it gets… I forced myself to go when my back was so bad, and so many physios had failed me, that the only future I could envision for myself was a steady decline into never being able to walk again… Miraculously I had an instant result and felt free of my mutinious body at last… Felt the trust in my flesh start to return as my body stopped fighting against me and moved in the direction I wanted to go… Each session a tiny improvement… Until just before lockdown when people started to make way for me rather than me apologise and get out of their path. I was no longer a terrible swimmer, never going to be an excellent swimmer but certainly good enough for my needs.

Returning to the pool yesterday, I’m back to being a terrible swimmer though not as awful as I feared… I was happy! Very happy! The water was the perfect temperature and covid measures meant ropes and lanes and limited numbers and the loss of lots of things that piss me off about swimming… The first half a length an underwater glide, the familiar rushing noise past my ears and returning to the surface, a smile of relief that my lungs were not as fucked as I thought they would be due to lack of exercise. 3 lengths further on… I remember what kept me returning to the water after the original problem was no longer a problem… Goggles heavily fogged, I see life with much clarity… My worries all slip away… And worries slipping effortlessly away is as close to Virgo Heaven as it gets…

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