There is an alluring quality to the scent of the pool. As soon as I walk in the doors, I can feel the excitement of the water, awaiting my arrival. I can’t get in fast enough. Peering over the front counter, over the computer and the lifeguard, I can see the corner of the pool. The surface is perfectly calm, flat, glistening in the artificial light. “We’re the only ones here!” I excitedly whisper to my kids. My heart rate quickens and skips a little. It seems to be taking forever to get in. I start hopping a little in place.
Finally we get through into the change room, where I quickly change and shower before heading out onto the deck. The smell of chlorine is even more fantastic, perhaps it rises into my nostrils from the tile deck. The thrill of calm water – overwhelming fabulous. We pick our spots and get ready to enter. I have to be first. I love my kids and don’t normally compete with them but all bets are off when we hit the lane pool. Quickly getting my cap and goggles on, I do a stride jump into the water as my kids laugh hysterically on the side. “I win!” I laugh and take off to the other side. To my surprise, my son dives in and chases me, and he’s not far behind. Sweet.
My arms glide through the water, propelling me with every stroke. The water is untouched in front of me. After a few lengths, I switch from freestyle to breaststroke, with which I glide with barely a sound. I’m looking ahead above the water to the far wall with each breath. But the best part is going under. As my head goes under water, I see my hands out in front of me, stretched into the cool blue water ahead. From the push-off, I look ahead and can just make out the ‘T’ of the lines that run along the bottom. The lines appear straight from above, but from below, they curve as the depth of the water changes. Only towards the shallow end do the lines appear straight. As I approach the deep end, the water is darker and strokes feel more difficult.
Once I turn, I get to head towards the shallow end, pushing and pulling with my arms and legs. This is the best part. It feels faster to head towards the shallow end. So much so that when I was a young child, I wasn’t able to swim anything but backstroke towards the deep end. On my back I could trick myself, but looking towards the deep end underwater caused me great anxiety.
At the end of the workout, the greatest part is taking off my cap and goggle and letting my hair out into the pool. It chills my head, perfect to combat the heat of a workout. I slide over the lane ropes, across the width of the pool, just like the Olympians do at the end of their races. But there are no TV cameras or cheering crowds here. Just the pure joy of two kids who now get to tackle the rope swing.