Since the third week of March, I have been going swimming every day. I go in the evening hours, from office, from home, from meeting someone, or just like that. Unlike Yoga or cycling or walking, I never think of swimming as exercise. In my bare minimum clothing, I derive a sense of safety in the deep end of the pool, sort of embryonic and warm. In the allotted one hour I use up only about 40 minutes. I enter the pool, do my laps, and get out before others. It gives me time to shower in peace, without the locker room nuisance of loud talk and too many male bodies.
Many others too come to swim, usually in groups: friends, families, children with mothers. They take their time chatting with each other, undressing, getting into the pool, prancing around in the water. They play ball in groups, hold on to the pool wall and shake their legs, they dip into the water, and many of them do breadths.
I do lengths. Often someone or the other bumps into me, once at least on every lap and I get angry. Do these people not know that the pool is to swim and not play? Do they not know that they should leave a few lengths aside for serious people like me? The pool should have rules. I kept getting angry and they kept bumping into me, spoiling my rhythm, interrupting my sense of purpose, I kept evading them, trying to keep my lengths going, without stopping for those who swam into me or blocked my length.
Then it occurred to me that I can get as angry as I want to but it won’t change my fellow swimmers. These people come here to unwind. This is a play area, not a place which needs to confirm to a rigid set of rules. These people who enter the pool with me do not intend to harm me, they are just being themselves. A little excited, a little relaxed, a little playful, a little uncaring. If I intend to swim through them, do my lengths, I need to be better prepared. What I need to do is know is how to assess when I am going to have a collision and how to get past it or the fellow swimmer or player perpendicular to me. I need not only swim freestyle, looking at one side, but need to be ready with breaststroke too. So that I can stall and navigate through through the masses of people. Sometimes a play area can teach you life lessons.
Tags: lessons, Swimming