I’m here for the water, not the swimming

Today, as I pushed off the wall of the pool to start my 400m warmup, I was quickly struck by how clear, sparkling and blue the water was. The Friday before, I noticed how cloudy it was, and I suppose I assumed that it was usual. But on Monday, the water had a particularly striking clarity. Coupled with the bright sunlight, this clarity made the nets of light that cast across the bottom of the pool shimmer more brightly than usual, and the bubbles from the feet and nose of the person in front of me sparkle with definition. Everything seemed so clear and enhanced and turquoise and uplifting.

It felt like swimming in a glass of sparkling water.

After the warm up I came up and called out excitedly to everyone, ‘Isn’t the water so clear today!’ Not everyone had noticed yet – the first 500 metres of a swim can be a bit rough – but the lifeguard close-by, standing with his arms folded, looked at me and nodded proudly. He understood entirely what I was talking about; his joy at the water was there in his eyes as he looked back at the water.   

I felt elated by the colour, light, feel, and sparkle, and was excited to spend the next hour admiring it through my goggles, and feeling it wash on my skin. But the elation made me an inattentive squad member, “Rebecca, listen!” called the coach. I laughed and as I dove under to push back off the wall I called back to him; “I’m here for the water, not the swimming”.

That’s not always true – I love swimming: how it feels to move that way; the bodily orientation the forms of movement, so different to walking or running. But it is always true that water is key to why I swim.

Even when it’s cold or murky or feels heavy, the feel of the water is almost always a tonic; almost always a joy.

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