Listening to the young and fit.

@postaday 205; #postaday2011.

I had to chuckle last night while the masters group at The Oahu Club were getting ready for their session with Coach Joe Lileikis. There are some very beautiful specimens in our group. They are young, fit and healthy. They are perfection. They are easy on the eyes, they could be cast in marble, they would photograph well in just goggles.

Then they open their mouths. Yes, hard to believe, but I stay very quiet in these sessions. I find being invisible at times like this rather convenient. Last night one of the  young men talked about how “…since I’m, you know, not even CLOSE to 40 yet…” he was expecting that something was going to work out really well. I don’t know what it was: A North Shore rough water swim, this weekend’s Tin Man triathlon, a job interview, a date. I wasn’t paying that much attention, so I’m not that sure. Then one of the  young girls started talking about how “…she was going to do the Tin Man but she didn’t know why she let herself get caught up in all this stuff. It had been so long since she had ever done a triathlon, like, when she was 18 or so…and that was like you know nearly six years ago!”

My filters were engaged because I knew she wouldn’t get it were I to giggle out loud.

These youngsters don’t talk with the old futs much. Comfortably behind my goggles, I don’t look around to see if any of the other older swimmers are as amused as I am at their narcissisms. Actually, it’s not all that interesting. The only thing I want to do is swim, do what I’m told in the water, and somehow survive the hour.

Based on how I’m feeling, I automatically go into the slowest lane. Sometimes I get relocated to a faster lane, sometimes I don’t.  Contributing to my sluggishness is the rising at 4:30 a.m., working all day, herding my girls, feeding them, and getting us to the pool in time for the 7:30 p.m. lap fest. The girls let off steam with some wet play time while I try to improve my technique, and to a lesser extent, my time.

Do not think that “masters” swimmers, are old futs. All it takes to be in masters is to be out of age-group swimming (over 18) and a desire to swim well. I started competitive swimming when I was six years old. Swim team practice was a twice-a-day ritual in the summers of my youth. And my brother, sister and I had no choice. Our mom said we’re to be on swim team. Part of it was to keep us fit, the other part of it was a way to keep us at Riverdel Swim Club from 7:30 in the morning until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. We didn’t go to camp, or summer school, or get to stay home all summer! There were no computers either. LOL.

As a result, I feel like I have a pretty good swimming foundation set in my aging bones and muscles. When I started last month, I had to relearn some techniques. I’m still trying to get a handle on paddling at 10 and 1 o’clock instead of both hands reaching for midnight. I’m still trying to get a handle on looking straight down instead of forward. I’ve learned how to breathe on both sides and I usually take a breath every three strokes. That is something I always wanted to learn how to do, and now it’s a happy habit.

Swimming is both a team sport and a lonely fitness pursuit. I’ve been in both camps. You cannot tell anyone younger that they, too, will someday enjoy slipping into a contemplative pace. I’m happy to be included in this group where the young and powerful are hungry for victory and mercilessly pound their competition. I see myself. I just hope I don’t hear myself.

By lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer survivor. English Language Arts teacher, English Learners Coordinator, and Paraprofessional Tutor. Super sub teacher. Dormant triathlete. Road cyclist and Masters swimmer. Gardener. Mrs. Fixit. Random dancer. Music Curator. A teenager trapped in an aging body. Did you know 60 is the new 40? It is.


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