December 19th, 2005


The pool

Yesterday, when I stepped out of the locker room into the pool room, the pool was like glass. No people in  it. I had visions of breaking the surface with a splash and tearing across the pool with rapid strokes, kicking up foam in my wake.

Of course I didn't do that. Instead I slipped into the water from the steps, feeling the warmth on my body, water warmer than the air, and I dipped under the lane lines to take the  middle lane.  And swam at my usual measured  pace. I had hopes that I would have it all to myself the entire time. But I didn't. As I closed onto my tenth lap, not yet halfway, others started to enter. I saw, in the lane next to mine, dark swimming trunks on a male body. This swimmer I had seen often, almost every time I go there, yet I would not be able to pick him out of a lineup. Maybe if the lineup were under water and I could see how he swims...

Today, again, glass. The pool all mine. When I got to the gym there were six other women in the locker room, which seemed a lot for the middle of the  day. They all seemed to be dressing in street clothes, done with their exercise,whatever it was. I love having it all to myself, the locker room too,  I am so...what...solitary? Maybe. Greedy? That could be  it. Because, again, today, I wanted that pool to be mine and mine only the whole time I was there. Today, though, the first other swimmer hit the water while I was just on my fourth lap. Again, the dark trunks, same guy. I had taken the far lane, against the wall, for a change, and he took the middle. At least we had a lane between us.  After a while I saw someone else swimming, seemed to be a woman, in the lane next to mine, and then I saw a large man, white almost as an albino, with a Santa Claus build, standing in the "walking"  lane, farthest from me. I see these swimmers under water or in quick glimpses when I lift my head to breathe, so I make it my duty to work out how many there are and what kinds of swimmers they are.

Generally everyone is faster than I am. I am the turtle, though. Steady if slow. Anyone who swims a recognizable stroke is usually faster than I am. Those who walk backwards tend to be about my speed, sometimes a wee bit slower. Those who swim unrecognizable strokes are sometimes slower, usually slower. Usually there are one or at most two "real" swimmers in the pool at any one time. The rest are like me or worse.

When I finished and got out of the pool today there were three "real" swimmers in the lanes. It was as if a swim  team had taken the gym hostage. Horrible thought. Those guys never know when to quit.