I was doing my usual after church swim one recent Sunday when I heard singing. I looked toward the spa and therapeutic pools and saw no one. Nancy was the only other person in the lap pool, and her head was underwater. I briefly thought of whale song, then kicked off for another lap. Still the strange music. Given the acoustics of the pool area, it had lots of reverb, and no apparent directional source. At the end of that lap, I stood and waited. Nancy came to the end of her lap and emerged to move her lap counter. The singing stopped. Then she re-submerged and kicked off, and the singing started again. Nancy swims with a snorkel. She was singing through her snorkel! The Taize’ hymn, she later told me, that we had sung earlier that morning. Singing helps her relax into a smooth un-rushed rhythm, she said, to feel at one with the water.
Swimming as a form of working out is relatively new to both of us. We both learned to swim as kids; me with some lessons, Nancy less formally taught. But neither had ever swum laps nor gotten comfortable with that head under the water thing until several years ago. When Nancy’s hip problems began to render her infirm on land, she joined the gym for access to a pool where she could get weight off the joints, and stretch and exercise without trauma. I joined, too, in support of her and in acknowledgment that my exercise-at-home strategy was not working. While she was in the pool, I would use the treadmills and ellipticals and rowing machines and resistance equipment.
Gradually, Nancy began to swim laps. She would watch the strong lap swimmers, ask questions, and watch instructional videos. She developed excellent form and respectable speed. And she began to ask me to join her in the pool. Reluctantly, I did.
I acknowledged my thin skin a few posts ago. I hereby do so again. Nancy would occasionally make a suggestion on my swimming form, and each time, I bristled. Sulked. Resisted. And then gave it a try and found she was right.
Nancy still has better form than I do. She swims her thousand meters faster than I do. She looks better in a swimsuit than I do. But I have come to enjoy swimming as my regular exercise. I started by swimming in lieu of a dry workout maybe once in three trips to the gym. Then twice in three. Now it is nine times out of ten, or more. Sometimes, maybe often, I feel at one with the water. And, inside my head, I sing.
One thought on “‘Whale Song’ in the Gold’s Gym Pool”
The thing about swimming is that anyone can be graceful (in oh, so many ways) in water. I was a fat kid and spent my summers in the pool. It was the only place I felt comfortable and in control. I still feel more comfortable in the water – especially salt water – than on land. Only in water do I feel graceful; my body is not an awkward vehicle.