Yesterday, I got in the pool for the second time in three days.
Lap swim – something I haven’t attempted in nearly six years.
On Monday, I (miraculously) was the only one in the pool. After, I called my sister to celebrate the doing of the thing.
“I went SO slow,” I confessed. “And, I was still so tired. Everything kind of hurts, but at least no one was there to see me . I got to exercise without embarressment.”
“Oh, I’m not embarressed,” my sister, said. “I don’t care if I’m slow, or whatever. I’m proud I’m doing it.”
Then I remembered how I started swimming.
In high school, I got cut from the softball team, which ended up landing me a spot on the track team. I lost every race, but the conditioning kept me in shape for field hockey (the sport I’d eventually go on to play in college at a Division I school). Being so bad at track (and then so good at field hockey), made it okay to be bad at swimming, too.
So, I swam and (mostly) lost in the winter. Ran and (always) lost in the spring. Then, not only played, but started and (mostly) won in the fall.
While the winning felt amazing, and being a part of that field hockey team made me feel accepted by groups I otherwise felt were “out of my league,” the lasting love came from those many losses.
For whatever reason, those swimmers and runners never gave up (on themselves or me).
They always believed we could do better.
They always cheered, even when my race was done for.
They never allowed me to hide from my horrible (horrible) times, but they never make me feel like I didn’t belong, either.
They accepted all of it, and me, and I thrived because of it.
On Wednesday, after doing just a few laps a lean, experienced swimmer dove into the lane next to me.
She lapped me. Multiple times. And as I felt the embarressment begin to creep in, I told myself something different:
“She’s happy you’re trying. She’s rooting for you as much as you’re in awe of her.”
We both kept swimming.
Later in the locker room, I asked her if the pool was typically empty in the mornings.
“Typically,” she said. “But it was nice to be in there with someone else. Keep going. You should get a cap.”
She was a swimmer – still not pretending – and still encouraging.
And, I was proud to have found my way back to the pool.