Swimming in the Pool with Anna (Day 154)

I woke up in the mood for a pool swim today. It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed the steady, meditative back and forth of a lap swim; the blueish tint to the dimly lit space of the pool, the quiet hum. The smell of chlorine and wet towels. 

But the biggest draw of pool swimming today was that my friend Anna could join me. Anna is my original swim friend. Years ago when my kids were on the swim team at the Albany pool, I was spending so many hours of my life poolside that I eventually decided I should start swimming myself. Anna agreed to join me and we started going for early morning lap swims before our kids woke up and needed anything from us. After a while, we joined the Master’s team. Anna had been a competitive swimmer so joining a Masters’s team made sense for her, but it wasn’t something I ever would have done without her. For several years, Anna and I went to practice each Monday and Wednesday at 6:00 am without fail. She in the fast lane, me in the slow. It was intimidating at first, but I soon grew to love the community and I learned so much. We were always a pair—if Anna had to miss practice, I usually didn’t bother to go and vice-versa. One year at the annual holiday party our coach gave us the “best friends” award. 

I loved those early morning drives with Anna, sharing our deepest thoughts and worries, our struggles and joys. For months of the year, we’d arrive in the darkness, wishing we could stay in the car and talk, but reluctantly dragging ourselves into the changing room and plunging into the steaming water. The Albany pool is outside and we swam through all weather and all seasons. In the fog and the rain, in the chilly daybreak and the howling wind; we’d watch the day unfurl as we dug into the workout. Afterward, we always felt amazing; buzzing with accomplishment and well-being. So glad we did it. 

Eventually, I petered out. Eliza started high school, joined the water polo team, and had early morning practices I had to drive her to. Anna kept going until Covid disrupted everything. Now she swims on her own, but no matter how many times I’ve asked, I can’t convince her to swim in the bay with me. She is a dedicated pool gal. But it feels strangely wrong to be writing a blog about swimming without a single mention of Anna with whom I first fell in love with swimming and so as soon as I decided to swim in the pool today, I thought, maybe Anna can come? And she could! 

It was fun to swim with her again: She zipping back and forth like something born to swim; me moseying along beside her. As always it was motivating to swim with her and we kept going until our time slot ran out. Then we went for a delicious breakfast, relishing every bite. 

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