Maybe the rain will continue into the morning, and swimming will be canceled, I wondered, drifting off again into sleep. But no. By 5:30 a.m., the cloud-filled sky was quiet and the only remnants of rain were the heavy droplets lingering on the window glass.
In the pool, air at 95 percent humidity, the cool water a refreshing break from the heaviness around me, I pulled my arms through the clear blue, rolled my body in stroke rotation. And then there was the backstroke, eight 25s of long, lean strokes.
Use your body, not your arms, the coach said. Turn from fingertips to your toes in one clean line.
The backstroke is an easy one. I far prefer swimming outdoors with the gorgeous golden sun a gem in my sight line this early in the morning. But with the backstroke, it’s easier to stay in line indoors, when the gaze can fix on a ceiling point and guide you straight from one end of the pool to the next.
I kept bumping up against the lane markers, hitting my arm as it pushed out of the water and back in again. I veered a bit into the center of the lane, and with five of us circling, that wasn’t ideal.
I did my best. That’s all we can ever ask for. I stroked on my back, core activated, breathing long and lean, from one end of the pool to the next. By the end, I was a little dizzy from turning so much to keep on track.
The master swim every summer is a fleeting gift of time. We hit the pool at 6 a.m., six lanes of varying abilities, all swimmers in earnest formation, starting our days with joy and effort.
I labor home wordless, more in tune than after a good deep meditation. The fluidity and joy of the pool, the sky, the rising sun, the encouraging voice of a kind coach, all make for a brilliant start to the day.
People laugh and joke, talk as if there are no other words. Mindless chatter, about the night just past – we all heard the storms, we all wondered about flooding in the basement – the day dawning ahead.
It was a slow swim for me, but I got through 45 minutes of it. Content, calm, I climbed out of the pool. It was quiet except for the birds and the wind and the sounds that are not sounds but simply the landscape of a peaceful day.
Sometimes, I get quiet enough to hear it. Today was one of those days. The beauty of just being, in splendid formation, the clear air all mine to gulp in, and plenty of time to do so.