Monday, August 24, 2015

Swimming in Southern California

Why yes, I was a lifeguard.  Why do you ask?
It may not shock you, knowing that I hale from not one but two desert states, that I’m not much of a swimmer.  I can swim, my mother insisted on that (thanks mom!), but I’ve never really liked swimming.

Partially, this is due to the fact that 99.44% of the pools I swam in (and still do) are wholly heated by passive solar energy—if it’s sunny, the water gets slightly warmer than a deep freezer.  Partially, getting all wet never really appealed to me.  And partially, since about sixth grade, when I got my first contact lenses, I began the habit of closing my eyes most of the time I spent in the pool.

So, even though I was a lifeguard in high school, my general apathy toward swimming does make sense.

Until last Thursday.

When we bought our current house, we weren’t looking for a pool.  In fact, with small boys who had only splashed around in our (mostly empty) tub, we were generally against.  Visions of small bodies floating . . . well, yeah.  Let’s not go there.  But the house, the yard and the neighborhood were as perfect (in our price range) as possible, so the pool became part of the deal.

At the time, I even looked up how to fill in a pool.

C'mon in.  Water's a perfect -273 Kelvin!
It’s a tedious process, but not impossible.

But that didn’t happen.  We hired a pool guy, waited for summer to come, and started checking the temperature after knocking holes in the ice.  By late August, when most of the frost had melted, we actually swam a bit.

This past spring, we picked up a solar cover for the pool.  Essentially, a big tarp.  It helps maintain the water level, keep bugs and debris out, lets the sun through and keeps the heat in.The penguins and polar bears gave their notice, and suddenly we had a warm(ish) and friendly pool.  At this point, of my three boys, I had 1.5 swimmers, and one exclusively in water-wings.  I still wasn’t overly keen on swimming, but I was more inclined.

Things became more interesting when 1.5 swimmers turned into 2.75 swimmers.  It’s been high 90s and low 100s this summer in the SoCal area, so the pool is a saving grace and we’re out in it nearly every day.  My apathy toward swimming still didn’t change until—goggles.

My wife started swimming laps, and wanted a cap and goggles.  I figured I’d get in on the
Otherwise known as cut-crystal anti-hydro optics!
action (because I like stuff), and picked up some for myself.  I wore them the first day they arrived, and WOW, the pool became a magical place.  I could dive down and SEE things.  I could do laps without pausing because the chlorinated water stung my eyes.  I could SEE things.

I even attempted a passable butterfly stroke, something I’d never dreamed of doing in the past.

I’m not saying I love swimming, but appeal is much more understandable.  The downside is all these “swimming muscles” that haven’t ever had a full workout.  Soreness on an epic scale!

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