I did it. I got back into the pool to swim laps. It was the first time since that fateful day last July when I broke my ankle. Between ankle healing, an exhausting schedule at school, a perpetual sinus infection, SSHL and the ensuing Microwick procedure, a couple of short trips, and sinus surgery, I just couldn't find enough energy to haul my lazy arse to the gym where I could share my swim with the half-dozen splishy-splashy lane jumpers who think swimming will be their answer to fitness. I hate the gym pool, but it's a necessary evil until my backyard pool warms enough each season.
I began swimming a few years ago as an alternative to fitness when my knees and ankles began to protest too much -- partly from age and partly from injury and scarring. I took to it rather begrudgingly, and I counted my laps and time precisely to the desired amount. I don't know exactly when that changed for me. Somewhere along the way, swimming became my muse. It was serendipity.
A sweet lady at the gym once told me I had a lovely stroke. She had no idea. When I am gliding along with the water rushing through my fingers, I find myself almost transported into another plane -- a hypnotic transformation where nothing in the world matters except my metered breath and stroke; my muscles and mind working together; my thoughts relaxing into a world of my making; a serene and solitary place for focusing energy and strength into my body, my soul.
I needed to swim.
The weather was beautiful and the pool was at that perfect temperature between being pleasantly refreshing and not having to "get used to it." I donned my mini-fins, swim cap, and kick board and decided to start off slow and leisurely, thinking I should ease myself back into it. I cleared my first hundred meters in a snap, so I ditched the kick board for my goggles and finished in free style.
Swimming 'almost deaf' was different than before. The quiet, muffled trickling of the water splashing past my ears and the steady rhythm of my breathing seemed amplified a thousand-fold inside my head -- pulsing and pressing me forward in a soul-weariness that discouraged my siren song. I didn't like it. I pushed past the despondence and the too-tired muscle twitches of the first five hundred and neared the thousand meter mark in just over a half hour. I decided to stop there - not because I needed to, but because I knew I would be paying for it later in sore muscles and sunburned thighs. I stepped out of the pool all wobbly and wet and smelling of chlorine. I remembered the smell of chlorine, and I remembered how much I loved it. I would swim again tomorrow.
And then I wondered -- will my ear be able to remember what it's like to hear as much as my nose remembered to smell? What sounds will it remember it loved and want to hear again? I wonder. And I hope.