Thursday, March 1, 2018

Taking the Plunge

In January, Adam and I decided to join a gym.

You know, like millions of other Americans.

We toured the Jewish Community Center in our neighborhood, and it had everything we wanted, including an immaculate workout facility (Every treadmill has a TV complete with Netflix—how about that for fancy?), free exercise classes, and an aquatics center.

A lot of evenings, Adam and I will do cardio workouts before meeting in the pool area to walk against the lazy river or just relax in the whirlpool spa.

I often look over longingly at the laps pool as svelte swimmers breaststroke their way from end to end.
Source (Also: not the actual JCC pool)

"Why don't you go swim some laps?" Adam will ask.

"Oh, I don't have goggles," was my first excuse.

"Then buy some."

So I did.

"Want to swim laps at the gym tonight?" Adam asked a few weeks later.

"I need a swim cap," I explained. "It's so cold outside, and I can't leave the gym with wet hair. I'll get sick."*

So off I went to Amazon once again to purchase more swim accessories.

This morning, I proclaimed that this would be the evening I would finally swim laps in the pool. And by the time I got off work, I was well on my way of talking myself out of it.

"Have you been outside today? It is SO windy and SO cold." I texted Adam at half past five. "I don't think I want to leave the house now that I'm home."

"The pool area is warm," he quickly replied. "It will feel great."

I sighed, turning off the TV (I was watching the season finale of I Am Jazz—so good) and trudged upstairs. Before I could talk myself out of it, I threw my bathing suit, goggles and swim cap into a gym bag, changed into workout clothes, and grabbed my car keys.

I was going to the JCC aquatics center tonight, gosh darn it.

Once I got to the locker room, I changed into my bathing suit with its giant, pink bow across the chest.
I took a photo for reference. Darling, right? But admittedly, not very sporty.

I look ridiculous
, I thought. Why didn't I buy a sleek Speedo one piece during my swimming shopping spree?

I nervously gathered my things and walked out to the pool area.

I fumbled with the swim cap, trying to stuff my hair into it neatly, and then I tugged the goggles around my noggin.

Naturally, Michael Phelps' twin was butterflying in the first lane.

Ugh. Of course he would be.

The middle lane was open so I sat on the edge of the pool, took a deep breath, and scooted in.

I swam the breaststroke from one end to the other. And it felt great.

I did a few more laps before noticing the third swimmer in the pool was a middle-aged man doing a sort of doggy paddle. It instantly made me feel better.

It didn't matter if I wasn't Summer Sanders! No one was watching, no one cared!

So I stopped caring.

I swam my heart out for the next twenty minutes. It was exhausting and wonderful.

As I swam, I thought about all the times in my life I had missed out on its magic.

I thought of myself at age fourteen, with a newly acquired set of wide hips and curves I found mortifying. I don't think I swam at all that summer.

I thought of when I first met Adam, and he invited me to a friend's pool. We were so new. I had sat on a pool chair wearing a cover-up and holding a novel "I just couldn't put down." They were my body guards, my defense against embarrassment.

And then I thought of the summer after that, of the first vacation I went on with Adam's family. We traveled to Northern Michigan, and I had felt so free and deliriously happy diving and swimming through the cold, crashing waves of the lake.

I loved the water.

And I was done letting insecurities keep me away from it.

*Side note: My copy chief at work told me that swim caps don't keep your hair dry. I didn't believe her, but she was right. They don't.

**Second side note: I also made it an entire ten minutes in the steam room after my swim, which is quite an accomplishment considering I usually walk in, sit there for thirty seconds, freak out, and leave.

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