Saturday, September 7, 2013

Swim-Racing My Kids

I learned to swim at the YMCA. My parents sent me for lessons, but they also sent me there for summer camp. There was A LOT of swim instruction at that camp. We were taught all four strokes, but I was utterly hopeless at butterfly.  I never did swim team, though, and after that camp I didn't swim laps much ever again.

During my pregnancy with Terza (and if you're counting, she's my third child), I felt like some gentle exercise would help with the aches and pains of my third stint as a human incubator. We were members of a gym with an indoor pool, so I went one day with my suit and goggles. Halfway through my first length of the pool I wanted a break. By the time I reached the other end, I wanted to die. My heart felt like exploding out of my chest, and I might have let it if it weren't for the baby I was growing. Yet, I needed to get back to the starting side of the lap pool in order to get out. I have no memory of that second lap, only the knowledge that I successfully lived to exit the pool, gestate Terza to term, and tell the tale all these six years later.

Our community pool is open for the two weekends after Labor Day, weather permitting. Today's weather permitted quite nicely, and between the fresh air, the battering I took at my first sparring class this morning, and the influence of my many athletic neighbors (Good luck, Iron Girls!) I got the idea to see if I could swim a lap. The kids and I suited up and walked down to the pool. Prima didn't even want to go, but once she heard I would be swimming laps, she said she might get her suit on. Terza, ever my shadow, wanted to share a lap lane with me. Seconda had plans to do her own thing. 

Terza and I get in the pool, and I ask her to race me. Prima decides to be the judge. On your mark, get set, go - and we're freestylin' down the lane. I'm beating Terza, so I slow up. She grabs the lane line to catch her breath; I tread water. We finally finish. She wants a rematch, this time in backstroke. I tell her I will go all out, and that she should swim as fast as she can, too. The look in her eyes is all like "Pssh, woman, I am going to crush you."

She totally did. Backstroke is her stroke.

Now, Prima is really excited to get in the pool. She wants to race me in freestyle. Same rules apply - we swim as fast as we can. Terza wins by a lot.

I am toast. 

I take a break and the girls play with friends and each other in the pool. I get the urge to swim again, and challenge Seconda to a race. She picks breaststroke. Ok, I can do that.

A quarter of the way down the lane I realize that I can't really swim breaststroke. At the halfway mark I notice that I'm eating Seconda's bubbles on this one. Three-quarters through I think that breaststroke is the dumbest stroke ever because you can't actually get anywhere while swimming it. When Seconda turns around at the wall to wait for my finish, and she waits, and waits some more, I switch to freestyle just to get to the damn wall already. I wish I hadn't done that.

In all, I swam eight laps today, not consecutively. I loved it, even though I was awful. I wanted to keep going even though my heart and lungs did not. When next summer comes, I hope to swim-race my kids again. 

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