I stand on the edge, looking down into deep water. Is it colder in there than it is here on the deck?
There are a lot of bodies around. Who’s nervous? asks one of the coaches. A few hands go up, eyes catch each other’s glances in recognition.
It’s going to be fun! he enthuses. I notice he is not in swim gear.
Who says that: ‘It’s going to be fun’?
Everyone says that. Nervousness and excitement are the same emotion.
I’ve made it to my first official group swim practice. I’ve done masters group swims years ago but it was nothing like this. It all seems so tame in comparison: there are probably 40 bodies here and once we get in the water it feels like a feeding frenzy the way the water is churned up. It’s like each swimmer creates their own personal vortex.
I often choose my swim times when it is least likely there will be others. I like the feeling of calm water where I can control the amount of disturbance. Here it feels like I am battling white caps each time I try to take a breath.
I am moved from the beginner group to the intermediates before the warm up is finished. “You’re with us” says one of my shark colleagues. I comply.
After a few laps it gets easier. I get my breathing settled. I remind myself that this is a workout I could have done last week and it’s just water. I move into another lane to reduce congestion and get into the back-and-forth of the rhythm.
The hour goes quickly. It was probably closer to 50 min. I finish the workout and completely ungracefully make my exit. I climb up the starter blocks and get stuck half way up, my belly not quite at my center of gravity and my feet kicking uselessly in the air. The guy beside me is too tired to even notice.
I don’t consider myself a swimmer, but maybe that’s not the point. The same argument goes with runners: you don’t have to race, or run a certain pace, or be able to run a certain distance. If you run, you are a runner. I swam.