As much as I complain about you — about the middle of the night wakeups, about the cost, about the 3-day swim meets where we spend 18 hours at the pool for 12 minutes of our daughter swimming — I love you dearly.
I abandoned you for many years. I used a tread desk for exercise when I got a full time job. Fitness was more efficient that way: I could exercise and work at the same time. I walked and typed and walked and typed and walked and had video calls.
When the treadmill died, I panicked about how I was going to fit exercise in. When the treadmill died, I also realized what a rut I was in. I rarely left my office. I rarely changed my perspective. I was always upright, always had access to air.
At the time, my husband was bringing our daughter to the pool for her early morning practices. It occurred to me that she is at the pool four days a week anyway — maybe that’s how I could get my exercise in: I could swim while she swims.
Now I’m swimming again, and how I missed you. I love using my shoulders and my hands to pull myself through blue water, like I’m flying, but through liquid. I love the murmur of bubbles by my ear as I exhale. I love the quiet of my mind in the pool. It’s so blessedly inactive I can barely even count laps. You are the closest I have ever come to meditating. Sometimes when thoughts do sneak in — thoughts other than how to move my arms or time my kick — the thoughts are of diving off the bow of our sailboat into the turquoise waters of the Caribbean one day when we retire. I’ll take my exercise in the sea surrounding our floating home.
I love the ocean, and you bring me closer to it.
But it’s not just for me that I love you. I love you for our daughter. As a sport, you are one of the healthiest I’ve encountered. There are rarely screaming sideline parents. The kids set personal goals that they have agency over — they are not dependent on others on the team to do their jobs, they are in charge of their own performance. They compete against their own times. You teach them discipline, you teach them commitment. They have pride in getting up before the world to practice (and they are adorable all sleepy eyed and bed-headed, waiting for the aquatic center staff to unlock the door at 5:30am). You allow boys and girls on the team to intermingle in a way I don’t see in other sports — they are together and friends rather than separated and avoiding each other. Something about that seems very healthy to me.
You’ve taught our daugher confidence and dedication. She is active because of you. She eats healthier because of you. She wants to be strong because of you. She improves because of you. She is part of a team because of you.
The sun hasn’t risen yet and I’ve already swum and showered. Our daughter continues her set in the pool below, sharing a lane with her best friend. We’ve been up since 4:40am, like we are every Wednesday and Friday. Some people hate mornings. I love them though. I love being up before the world, getting in a workout, and sitting in the bleachers afterwards, eating my yogurt and walnuts from a thermos while the sun rises. The whole day, the rest of my life, stretches out before me. And I want you in it.