I joined US Masters Swimming in 2015 after being on deck as a swim mom and parent volunteer for 14 years. It was the adult program with the team my children swam with from kindergarten through high school. My New Year’s Resolution that year — my first as an empty nester — was to join Masters and swim with a coach. It only took me until April to make good on my New Year’s resolution. But once I got in, I made slow, but steady progress.
My biggest issue with swimming is consistency. It’s something you have to do year round to get stronger. Not every day is a good day, although most of them are. The biggest challenge for me in the beginning was relaxing and getting a steady breathing pattern.
Lately my roadblock to consistency is weather. I do not like getting in or out of the pool when it’s cold. I quit for several months over the winter. Getting back into the pool this spring, I felt like I was starting over.
During the COVID years, our Palm Springs pool (above) was shut down. Then it opened to reservations for every other lane (social distancing). Our Masters team was not allowed to practice until about the time we moved to Arizona.
What I’ve discovered about swimming, rather than cheering on the sidelines, is that being in the water gives me a chance to reflect. It’s mostly a quiet time, where I get the best physical exercise, ever — plus peace and clarity in my day.
I’m still working on the breathing. When I do feel relaxed and smooth, I notice the following 10 things while I swim:
The way the water feels cool against my skin.
The bubbles my hands make entering the water.
Spirographs and kaleidoscopes of shadows and light on the bottom of the pool as the sun filters through the water.
The shadow of the flags as I get close to the wall.
Muffled sounds underwater. It’s like I’m listening to a foreign language.
The view of clouds, saguaro and desert when I stop to rest.
The slope of the pool with tiled, black lines curving to lower depths.
A clump of leaves that looks like a plant growing in a crack at the bottom of my lane.
Floating and swimming relaxed must be what flying would feel like.
Relief at the end of my 1,000-yards. I feel much stronger and smoother than during my first 100 yards.
As a swimmer, I appreciate with new understanding the hard work my kids and coaches have put in for years, every single day.
What activity do you enjoy that brings you peace and clarity in your day?