Yes. All mine. Fir fifteen minutes. Fifteen glorious minutes. Or curious minutes.
Actually, it was strange. There’s no need to have the entire pool to myself. It’s superfluous, really. I just need a lane. Which is why I want to be there precisely at 8pm. When the hour of lap swimming. I want to claim my spot, not have to request to infiltrate another swimmer’s lane.
My timing was good. Not too much time; just enough for changing and pre-showering. One other woman was in the locker room. She was new here and asked a few questions. Cap required? Nope. I wear one because I want to—keeps my hair out of face. What’s the deal with the class? Water aerobics. You drop in, or sign up for a multi-class card. Either way. Cheaper if you’re a member. I’m a member so I don’t remember what they charge to drop in. I prefer the Monday teacher, but that’s just me.
It was nice to help. This is my home. I know things about the place. And the quirkiness of the website. (The water aerobics schedule is there, just listed separately from lap time.) Hopefully I helped her feel welcome, though I neglected to ask for hers or offer my name. Oh well.
Ladder. 50. 100. 150. 200. During this 30 second break, my name is called from two lanes over.
“Hi! Nice to see you!” it was Mark, the nice man from swim class last spring. We didn’t see each other all summer—he tried to mornings (he’s a teacher; had the summer off) and I swam mostly at night. And here we are! With his schedule, and the craziness of fall with his own wife and kids, morning no longer worked.
“Is it always like this?” Mark asked.
Well, my two experiences with Wednesday nights since the pool’s two week closure proved this third Wednesday to follow the rule.
“So far,” I answered. “Comfortable, right?”
“I hate circling,” he confessed.
“In fact,” Mark decided as he scanned the pool, “I’m moving to empty lane 5!”
“Do it!” I encouraged. We were down to have a dozen swimmers. Perfect. Each their own lane. Goggles back on and I’m off to my 250!
Mark is still swimming. I remember his fast pace. He joined the class to train for a triathlon. Yes, our goals were varied. Some, speed. Me, I just wanted to learn how to breathe!
OK, I could descend my ladder now. Or…my brain my turning over the idea of a 300 yard swim. I’d never done a dozen continuous lengths. Could I handle it? It seemed I did the 250 without dying. I wouldn’t have time to descend the full ladder, but I could stagger it, right? My rules.
I pushed off the wall.
I zone out with counting. 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1. Them 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Half way. I can do this.
I’m about to turn and I see Mark standing on the deck.
“Maybe I’ll see you next week?”
“That would be great. Wait. Where did everyone else go?”
“You’ve got the whole pool to yourself. Enjoy!”
“Wow,” I said as I took it all in. “Have a good night!”
Mark waved and padded to the guy’s locker room. I start swimming. 7, 7, 7, 7…
I’m not thinking about Adam leaving our office in two short weeks. I’m not thinking about the class work I still need to do. I’m not thinking about fitting in time for all of my PT exercises and stretches. I’m not thinking about the check engine light that illuminated on my dash board on my way over.
I’m not thinking about anything but swimming. 10, 10, 10. 11, 11, 11. 12, 12, 12! I did it. No, I did it!
It’s just me. And the life guard. The same young kid who’s been here these three weeks. It’s ten ‘til 9. The lanes weren’t quite set when we first arrived, so I started at 8:05. 40 minutes. Five minutes of breaks. I need a few more minutes of swimming.
“OK if I get in another 100?” I call to the guard, high school student, for sure.
“Not a problem. The pool is your until nine. I don’t leave until 9:30, so don’t worry about me.”
So I don’t. I need this cool down. I do a 100, then stop. The a leisurely 50. It’s 8:55. I’m done.
“Thank you!” I call to the guard, as I always do.
“Have a good night!” he returns.
I just did.