In California, I live 4 houses from an amazing “aquatic center.” It has an outdoor as well as an indoor pool, there are lots of windows and it’s big and sunny. In the old days (a couple of years ago) it was kind of a nasty pool and an even worse locker room, but I still used it at different points in my life for my exercise. Now I’ve started using this new pool, with one more month to live here, and I’m thinking how silly I’ve been not to have taken advantage of it more often.
I like smoothly gliding through the water — it’s almost a meditation for me. I don’t really swim hard, but tend to be a back and breast stroke girl, occasionally water walking as well. I have to deal with ear plugs because I tend to get ear infections, so I basically can’t hear anything but the sound of my own movement in the water. Very peaceful.
I’ve taken many breaks from swimming, for many reasons, but the latest was because I just hate being cold in the water as well as when I get out of the water. For a while I was swimming in Berkeley, at a warm pool that was for disabled people, and that was absolutely great. But of course as things go (for seniors and disabled folks), that pool was closed, and nothing has replaced it. But lately I’ve been doing some emotional eating with the stress of this move, and I have gained weight. I’m not able to walk as much because of this damned sciatica, so I’ve started swimming to get some exercise. And probably because I’m overweight and it’s basically summer, I am not minding the cool water of this nearby pool.
I learned to swim in the motel pools that we frequented on our trips “out west.” My dad took us on field trips to collect crickets all over the western part of the United States, and we stayed in the inexpensive little motels with pools that were all over at the time. Every day we would stop in time to use the pool in the afternoon, and my sister and I loved playing in the water. Once I took Sarita (who doesn’t love the water) to an outdoor pool not far from here and showed her all the childhood games I used to play in the water — underwater tea party, diving through legs, turning backward and front somersaults, sitting on the bottom of the pool, etc. It was very fun, kind of a one time thing, and she got a tan line that lasted a year!
Then there were the times I took the kids when they were young to Calistoga. I could never afford to stay more than one night at a little motel just out of town, but we would be in the pool and hot tubs for hours and hours at a time for 2 days. I think that is where they learned to swim, and none of us ever seemed to tire of being in the water. Those were the days before Nonie fussed about her hair, and the pools varied enough in depth that all of us could have a good time no matter what our age and height and no matter how brave we were feeling. And it was always warm in the water!
Now I’m moving to a desert, to a town with intense water problems The nearest pool is half an hour away, and although I intend to check it out, I can’t imagine going more than once (possibly twice?) a week. We’re hoping to have a hot tub in the back yard, so that we can enjoy the warm water and the night sky at the same time (Sarita is a bath girl it turns out, and that is her absolute best way of relaxing), but it won’t provide exercise. I’m realizing that the end of an era is here, at least as far as my water experiences, and curious to see what is next. Swimming certainly is the most gentle exercise I can choose for my disabled body, and along with walking, the most enjoyable. Both will be somewhat limited in my new life (walking because I’m afraid of the feral and loose dogs in town, although if I walk with my walking sticks I feel more confident). But I know I will work it out. And I’m thrilled that the buyers of our house here in CA have a daughter who has decided she wants to be a swimmer when she grows up, so I know she will take full advantage of living next to this aquatic center.
Meanwhile, swimming turns out to be another good distraction from the stress of moving, so I’ll enjoy it while I can.