Today I swam laps. It was only my second time in over twelve years. I am learning to swim again at the age of 62.
Both times I’ve walked over to the pool just a block from home, I set the goal of swimming for thirty minutes. Today I swam for forty. But I’m awful. Messy. Sloooowwww. I have trouble breathing and sometimes stop mid-lane before I finish a length. My breathing gets anxious and my lungs feel like they are about to explode. The pool was busy today and I had to share a lane with not one, but two people and my old lap bathing suit shows way too much cleavage. I loved every minute.
Somewhere along the time of my 62nd birthday and the resurgence of Covid and the Delta variant, I decided it was time to switch things up. My workouts were ho-hum.
Walks, bike rides, yoga, strength training and hikes were all good, but I felt bored. My body felt lazy; it needed a jolt, a challenge. Something new.
On my birthday, Rob and I hiked in the Indian Peaks Wilderness and I wanted to keep adding miles so we did. I didn’t want to do the exact hike we had done a week or so earlier. I wanted to push myself.
So I did. And I felt marvelous. I felt like myself.
When my children were 3 and 5, and I was 35, I learned to ski. It took an entire season to go from the green to the double black at Waterville Vally Ski Resort. I was super proud of myself after I completed my first run down Lower Bobby’s and enjoyed the adrenaline rush. Skiing led to hiking. Divorce led to hiking solo. I competed in my first sprint triathlon (and last) and my friends at REI were my avid trainers.
Things I had once thought I could not do, I learned to do.
Moving to Colorado had me back on my bike, and cycling distances I had never imagined. First 15 miles, then 25, then 60 and finally a century. I rode up long hills and then rode my brakes down. The physical challenges excited me and I loved the way my body felt when I was done. Tired, achy, exhilarated. Proud.
At first, I rode with girlfriends and ended our rides with bacon and eggs. When Rob and I began seeing one another, I clipped in for the first time and he encouraged me as I hit new milestones on the bike.
These days I rarely get on my road bike (let’s be honest, I haven’t been outside on that bike for almost two years) preferring my gravel bike and dirt roads. Rob and I have a tandem bike and though we take it on the road, I still prefer dirt. Cars and inattentive drivers frighten me.
But I haven’t set an individual challenge in years. I wanted to explore something that would be doable over time. Remind myself that I could.
So I got back in the pool, and started learning to swim, again. Maybe I should blame my new activity on Katie Ledecky or the entire U.S. Olympic team (I mean, the swimming was crazy exciting!). I was intimidated and nervous, worried everyone would notice how awful I was. No one did. Sometimes I forget that the world does not revolve around my experience.
When I first walked through the gate of the pool, I felt the need to tell the young woman signing me in that I hadn’t done this in over ten years. Maybe I thought someone would point to me and say, “Who does she think she is swimming laps?”
Who do I think I am. Yikes, most of us have heard that voice play out in our heads. Especially when we are feeling insecure or lacking in confidence. We worry about being judged.
But we forget that maybe we are being judged. Judged for showing up. Judged for taking a chance, exposing our inner vulnerability.
Maybe the judgement comes out on the inspirational or positive side, not the negative.
So, I’m putting this in writing, right here, right now. I am challenging myself to get strong enough in the pool to swim at least six pool lengths without feeling like I’m about to explode. There is no specific time limit, but I’m hoping for about two months. Eventually I’d love to be able to swim twice that long without a break.
Hold me accountable, okay?
And, hey. Does anyone know where I can find a lap swimsuit that is suitable for big breasts?