Before: I jumped into the pool and swam to the other side.
After: I glanced briefly at the water before jumping in. The sun glistened through the windows and onto the surface of the pool, casting light grey shadows on the bottom of the pool with little twinkling stars floating on the surface. No one had broken the perfection of the top of the water yet, although two red and white lane ropes ran from end to end cutting the pool into thirds. It was like they were part of the pool structure though, immovable and permanent, red on the ends with white in between. The water moved ever so slightly, shifting the twinkling stars around like little buoys. In a few minutes the sun would move and be gone from the surface but in the meantime I dawdled in an effort to prolong the beauty. From my left I heard a “splash!” and in that instant, the water went from serene to beaten. Splashy, angry little waves struck the edge, and several “sloops” were heard as the first waves were sucked into the filters. The lane ropes helped to calm the waves but they would not halted. “Slap, slap, slap,” went the arms of the other swimmers as they began to jump in in droves now, one after the other. It was time.
I chose to jump in the pool, deciding it would be preferable to get my feet wet first rather than my head. In that split second in the air before hitting the water, I cringed at the thought of being cold, and wondered what was in store for us in the pool today. Then the feeling was gone. My feet hit, enjoying the cold water, but as it rose to my chest I felt the chill. After my face hit the water, I allowed my body to sink to the bottom. As my feet hit the tiny tiles on the bottom, I shifted into gear; it was time to work. My feet pushed off the bottom, thrusting my body to the surface into a horizontal position. My head cradled in the wave I was creating in front of me, my feet propelling me forward with their constant flutter, and my arms creating ovals through the air and water. As I approach the wall, I shift my stroke slightly, pull harder underwater and force myself around in a somersault. Pushing off the wall is the best part of the length; using the force of your biggest muscles, the body is propelled much more quickly and out you go, streamlined and ready to take on another length. As I push off the wall, the swimmer behind me is entering it, pushing me to go faster in the next length to avoid the dreaded touch of the swimmer behind on my feet. Looking ahead as I glide forward, I can see the other bodies moving through the water, with their shadows visible on the pool bottom. The lane ropes stretch from end to end, looking endless, appearing to stop only when you are touching the wall. Back and forth, back and forth we go. Shifting my gaze from the bottom of the pool to just in front of me, I know where I should be looking but can’t resist the temptation to stare at the shadows and light dancing on the bottom.
Over and over again the arms and legs of the swimmers are drawn through the water, each one purposeful and beautiful and unique. It takes less than 15 metres to get into the rhythm and to hear the beauty of the noise, everyone being in a slightly different spot in their stroke but coming together into swimming symphony. In each moment, someone is starting a breath, another is finishing, a few are stealing a glance onto the pool deck, but all of us swimming. Each of us alone in our thoughts but together in the pool making beautiful music.